Hyundai Pondering Pickup for US

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Although not a present priority, Hyundai sees a pickup as an important model for its lineup.

Hyundai is considering launching a pickup truck in the US, according to the Korean automaker's sales boss. The word comes in from Automotive News, which although revealed on April 1, stems from a conversation that took place on the eve of the Seoul Motor Show that kicked off last week. Lee In-cheol, vice president in charge of international sales, said that as the pickup truck is the only segment in which Hyundai doesn't have a presence, the carmaker is looking into the possibility of getting in on the act.

There are no plans to produce a pickup just yet, but as dealers in the US and elsewhere have asked for one, the carmaker is obliged to consider it. "We are doing a good job in recent years without a pickup truck," Lee said of Hyundai's sales. "A pickup truck is important, but it's not a big priority for our company. But we have to consider how to respond. It is under study." Hyundai's R&D center is studying the idea, and if approved a small truck could be built first targeted at emerging markets. Rumors of a Hyundai pickup date back to the late 2000s, when a unibody, front-wheel-drive mid-size pickup was being considered with sister-company Kia.

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Rising oil prices and a stagnant truck market put paid to that idea with focus instead kept firmly on its crossovers, sedans, SUVs and coupes. However, a pickup could now happen, especially when the chicken tax - a 25 percent tariff on light-duty trucks and vans imported to the US - expires in 2021 as part of the recently formed US-South Korean free trade agreement.

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