Hyundai is set to produce a vehicle that has the potential to help it move even further up the sales charts as the effort to build a much-wanted ute ramps up, with a potential 2022 or 2023 release date currently in sight.
With Hyundai’s local arm having been calling for a ute to join its commercial vehicle range since 2015, the South Korean marque’s executives seem to finally be more invested in the idea after a team of the company’s researchers headed Down Under recently to study our market, in which utes have been the top sellers for the past three years.
With demand not just from Hyundai’s Australian arm but also from other markets like South East Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas, the need for this new Hyundai ute to work as a global vehicle will be imperative to the project being able to take flight.
That’s why at this stage, it’s unclear just what approach Hyundai will take to producing such a vehicle. For the best chance of success, a body-on-frame dual-cab design with both 4×2 and 4×4 drivetrains would seem to be the best option, given that’s what all of Australia’s best-sellers offer, but single-cab configurations and a car-based unibody ute like the Santa Cruz concept pictured are ideas that are still on the drawing board.
Furthermore, all other specifications like engine and transmission options, tray size and payload capacity, and towing ability requirements are also yet to be finalised, although Hyundai Australia is believed to have made its expectations clear to head office.
A factory for the Hyundai ute is also yet to be confirmed, with the company’s Jeonju global commercial vehicle plant in its home country of South Korea looking to be the most likely option, although there is the potential for a manufacturing facility to be established in Thailand where most Aussie-delivered utes are built, including the best-selling Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger.
Also helping the project have more chance of making it to market is the fact that sister company Kia wants a slice of the ute action as well, and its offering would share its guts with whatever Hyundai produces.
Earlier this year, Kia Motors Australia boss Damien Meredith mentioned that it’d like to take a 10 percent slice of the ute market (around 20,000 sales) while Hyundai is hoping for 15,000 units here annually when it manages to get a ute to market, which would see it just behind the i30 and Tucson in terms of the company’s Aussie sales.
All that is clear is that the huge success of utes here in Australia will help form a blueprint for what this upcoming Hyundai and Kia ute duo may look like, and much of the development would likely include testing the vehicle extensively here.
Worth noting is that Hyundai has already confirmed that whatever does manage to make its way here, like all of it’s Aussie-delivered offerings, would have its ride and handling tuned for our tastes, although it’s looking likely that the whole vehicle will be aimed squarely at us.