Kia Mojave conceptEnlarge Photo
Pickup sales are booming. In fact, trucks are on track to be the biggest sellers of 2013, thanks to the recovery of the U.S. housing and construction markets. So it should come as no surprise that Hyundai is considering the addition of a pickup to its lineup.
If that sounds familiar, it's because we've been down this road before. Just a few years ago, Hyundai toyed with the idea of front-wheel-drive pickup for the U.S., and its sister, Kia, even released details of a Sorrento-based truck modeled on its 2004 Mojave concept. Alas, those announcements came in early 2008, just as the Great Recession was preparing to wallop world economies.
Now that things are (mostly) back on track, Hyundai's head of international sales, Lee In-cheol, tells AutoNews that the company is once again looking at pickups. However, it's very early in the game, with the bulk of Hyundai's work focused on market data to determine (a) if a truck could sell well, and if so, (b) what it might look like. Would it be a big truck aimed at the U.S., or would it be a smaller truck for emerging markets like India and Brazil?
If Hyundai sets its sights on America, it may wait a while before launching the pickup. Not only would the truck need to undergo years of testing, but despite a new free-trade agreement with South Korea, the U.S. still imposes a hefty tax on imported light-duty trucks and vans, which would put the new pickup at a disadvantage. Fortunately for Hyundai, that tariff -- the "chicken tax" instituted by President Lyndon Johnson in 1963 -- will phase out by 2021 thanks to the free-trade agreement.
We'll keep you posted as this story progresses