Who will be the first to market with a small pickup?
As of 2019, the smallest pickup trucks you can buy in the United States aren't really that small. The mid-size truck segment includes the likes of the Chevy Colorado, Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline, Jeep Gladiator, Nissan Frontier, and Toyota Tacoma, all of which are larger than full-size pickup trucks from the 1990s. Since there aren't any automakers building a truly small pickup, a few companies are starting to contemplate entering the segment.
Hyundai is one of the most intriguing candidates to build a small truck having openly talked about building a production version of the Santa Cruz Concept. When we spoke to Mike O'Brien, Hyundai's VP of Corporate Communications, at the 2019 New York Auto Show, we were told there would be some news on the small pickup sometime soon. But what about Hyundai's corporate sibling Kia?
Kia hasn't been quite as gung-ho about building a pickup truck but the company hasn't ruled it out either. Speaking with MotorTrend in New York, Michael Cole, chief operating officer and executive vice president at Kia Motors America said "We think that there's enough opportunity," but admitted, "it's a long way down the road." So although Hyundai seems close to revealing a new truck, Kia's version isn't coming any time soon.
Cole says Kia has other priorities before building a truck. "We look at our core segments right now and we want to become a stronger SUV brand. We want to reaffirm our strength in the sedan lineup and there are things that we still think we can do in those areas that offer us the best opportunity. Down the line, if we can tick all those boxes and say we've got this sorted and thinking about the electrification, and all of these other issues, could some sort of pickup be part of the future Kia lineup? It could be, but it's not in our thinking right now. We're focusing on what we believe to be the core territory for us: SUVs and cars," Cole said.