An article in Automotive News today hardly seems like an April fool’s joke, but as surely as Justin Bieber is facing charges for spitting, U.S. and Japanese automakers probably wish it could be a joke. The Korean manufacturer has been on fire in recent years, with impressive designs and enough quality and warranty coverage to chip away at market share in the auto and SUV segments.
Surely, the company has had their eye on the truck market since it launched here in the 1980’s with its disposable cars, but Hyundai VP in charge of international sales, Hee In-cheol indicates it is in the works.
"We are studying that one very hard -- what kind of pickup truck we should produce, if we have to. Is it a big-size pickup truck like in the United States or a small kind of pickup truck?" Lee told Automotive News.
Hyundai has marketed a compact pickup before, selling their Pony Pickup in South America, Europe, and the Middle East during the 1980's and 1990's. This youtube video shows one that is still in running condition.
Word is they could look at bringing a truck into the U.S. market once the so-called “chicken tax” expires, or launch a small truck in emerging markets. If they choose to come here, they face an uphill battle similar to that of Toyota and Nissan, BUT, Hyundai’s tendency to position its vehicles on price could REALLY cut into the U.S. Big Three of Ford, Ram (Dodge), and Chevrolet / GMC. They have the powerful V8 engine from the Genesis vehicles, and plenty of R&D from their off-road racing ventures, so the pieces are in place to launch a full-sized truck.
With the inevitable rise of fuel prices, the U.S. is also ripe for a true compact pickup again. Most compacts today have more power than full-size pickups a decade ago, and similar-sized cabins. I remember when Chevrolet’s Luv pickup was all the rage, and the Nissan pickup was actually a small truck. Subaru’s recent attempt to revive the Brat was a dud, but Hyundai’s market savvy and design abilities give it a real shot at biting at the heels of the other truck makers.
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Tom has an MBA in Marketing and is an automotive writer and author with more than 15 years experience in virtually every aspect of the retail auto industry. He has been a leader in everything from sales and service, to web development and viral marketing.