Kia design boss Karim Habib is eager to do it.
There's been talk of a Kia pickup for some time now, with the first reports of such a thing emerging around 2018. In the years since, the rumors have refused to abate, and we've covered many stories on why this is a good idea. Kia itself seems to be keen on the concept, or at least it was last year. But then last month, a senior Kia official in Australia said that it's "probably a long shot." It seems, then, that Kia has not yet quite figured out if it wants to go ahead, but according to an interview with Autocar, employees of the Korean automaker are very interested in making a Kia truck reality.
The British publication asked design chief Karim Habib if he'd be keen on a Kia version of the Hyundai Santa Cruz to rival the likes of the Ford Maverick, and his response was very warm. "I'd welcome it with open arms," said Habib. "It would fit with our portfolio and the brand. In the pickup market in the US, there is a huge amount of loyalty to existing brands. But there are also new things opening up. So maybe there is room for another brand." In line with these comments, we've taken a crack at what a Kia pickup would look like with the brand's latest design philosophy applied. Using the Santa Cruz base, the design was adapted to take inspiration from the Sportage, which rides on the same platform.
While it seems most logical that a Kia pickup would be Santa Cruz-based, Kia has a strong presence in markets like Australia and South Africa too, and talk of a body-on-frame truck to rival the Ford Ranger garnered considerable interest. However, developing an all-new platform would be expensive, and as the age of electrification dawns on us, that sort of expenditure may not be easily justifiable unless the platform is suited to electric applications too. Taking advantage of Hyundai's R&D on the Santa Cruz simply makes more financial sense, especially when this is the brand's first real foray into the market. We hope to have more concrete news on the matter soon, but for now, it seems that we'll just have to wait for Kia to make up its mind.