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Why Kia Is Not Rushing To Build A Truck

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Sister brand Hyundai is planning one, so why not Kia?

Last year. at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show, we learned that Kia was considering building a pickup truck for the US market. Like all other automakers not headquartered in or near Detroit, the truck segment is dominated by GM, Ford and FCA's Ram division. Is there any point in even attempting a truck? Well, yes. Just look at the Honda Ridgeline, a unibody truck that's really more of a crossover with a bed.

That said, Kia's sister brand, Hyundai, updated us regarding the progress it's making towards a production version of the Santa Cruz concept at this year's Detroit Auto Show. While Hyundai didn't flesh out specific details, it was made clear to us something is coming soon. So, will Kia get its own version?

We sat down with Michael Cole, Kia's newly appointed US chief operations officer, in the Motor City and inquired about this subject. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Kia is pushing the project at the same speed as Hyundai.

"Trucks are something we're always aware of but, quite honestly, there's still so much opportunity in the segments we're competing in today, the sedan and SUV markets," Cole said. "In terms of the more mainstream SUV market, midsize and down, there's an incredibly broad range. With the new Telluride, we've really strengthened our lineup."

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When pressed further about a Kia truck (pictured here is the 2004 KCV4 Mojave Concept) fitting somewhere in that car-based SUV/crossover lineup, all Cole would say is that "a truck is in the back of our minds." For now, SUV crossovers are what's hot and Kia plans to further capitalize. "We see great opportunity to continue growing both Sorento and Sportage," Cole added.

Based on what we managed to learn from Hyundai, a production Santa Cruz (name change possible) will likely arrive sometime within the next two years. This would allow Kia plenty of time to further establish its crossover sales in all segments it competes, and then reevaluate future truck potential. Patience has its virtues.

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