Will Kia Sell A Pickup Truck In The U.S.?

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - December 1, 2021

With Hyundai coming out with the Santa Cruz pickup truck, a lot of people have started to think about the possibility of Kia coming out with a truck of its own. While the automaker wasn’t interested in the idea of a pickup truck in 2018, Kia’s design boss recently stated that he’s interested in working on a truck.

“I’d welcome it with open arms,” said Karim Habib in an interview with Autocar when asked about following Hyundai’s lead to come up with a pickup truck for Kia. Kia doesn’t have a rich history with pickup trucks, but the South Korean automaker has shown that it can adventure into new territory incredibly well. The Kia Telluride has thrown the midsize SUV segment for a loop, while the Carnival minivan feels far more luxurious than any other minivan on sale. With Hyundai entering, and partially creating an entirely new segment of trucks with the Santa Fe, there’s proof that you don’t have to have years of experience to come out with a new class of vehicle.

Pickup trucks are incredibly popular in the U.S. and Habib would make sure that the vehicle would appeal to buyers in America. He went on to say that the truck “would fit with our portfolio and the brand. In the pickup market in the U.S., there is huge amount of loyalty to existing brands. But there are also new things opening up. So maybe there is room for another brand.”

By “new things opening up,” we can only imagine that Habib is alluding to the new class of compact trucks that includes the Santa Fe and Ford Maverick. So far, the class only has two competitors, but the amount of interest the Santa Fe and Maverick have received in a short amount of time indicates that consumers are interested in small trucks. That leaves room for more brands to enter the class. Plus, with Hyundai already having a competitor in the class, Kia could use a lot of the same components from the Santa Fe for its version. There’s a business model to be made for a Kia pickup.

A few years ago, Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning for Kia Motors America, danced around the idea of a pickup truck. In an interview with Wards Auto, Hedrick stated that a pickup truck is “a big step to take and I think it’s a major commitment.” When speaking with the outlet, Hedrick pointed toward how difficult of a time Nissan was having attempting to make a competitive offering to trucks from Ford, Ram, Chevrolet, and General Motors.

Kia doesn’t have a pickup truck on sale in the U.S., but it has been selling the Bongo in some countries since 1980. The Bongo is a commercial vehicle and is available in multiple configurations. So, Kia does have some knowledge of how to make a work vehicle. If Kia were to introduce a pickup truck for the U.S. market, we expect the vehicle to have a daring design, like a lot of the SUVs, and have some high-end touches on upper trim levels.

If Kia does decide to introduce a pickup truck, we think the automaker will come out with a concept before the official vehicle goes on sale. Hopefully, Kia won’t take seven years from concept to production like Hyundai did with the Santa Cruz.

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Pictured: 2022 Kia Sorento (Top), 2022 Ford Maverick (Middle)

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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