Korea finally throwing in a little competition in Australia’s favourite segment.
With utes being such big business here, it comes as little surprise that Hyundai Australia has been lobbying with their head office in Seoul for years to get such a project off the ground. And while management has consistently said that a ute isn’t on its to-do list, after much persistence from the Australian office, a Hyundai ute will finally see the light of day.
According to a CarAdvice report, Hyundai Australia COO Scott Grant said to them that the ute project has only recently gained traction. “For a number of years now we have made through our product planning team a number of submissions to [Hyundai Motor Company] HMC about the market conditions in Australia, and it’s pretty obvious that LCVs in general are substantial in terms of sales percentage in our market – and we don’t compete in that segment outside of iLoad,” the COO opined.
Grant continued, “We have done some significant detailed studies on the competition over recent years, and there has been a number of recent entrants to that market as well, so we’ve continued to update that material with HMC. They’ve been listening and, back five years ago, they told us they are busy with other things. In the last couple of years they’ve said we’ve received similar enquiries from other markets and the project is now moving forward.”
Hyundai has, to some extent, explored the idea of a ute before. The Hyundai Santa Cruz concept from 2015 (the dark car you see here) depicted a lifestyle ute of sorts, that placed little priority on outright utility. The Korean carmaker made its ideas on utes clear once again when it showed off the Creta STC concept at the 2016 Sao Paulo autoshow, though this too was designed more as a lifestyle product than a hard-working lugger. That’s not what Hyundai Australia wants, though.
“We’ve requested the whole shooting match,” Grant said. “4×2, 4×4, single cab, extra cab, dual cab, a number of combinations. If we’re going to do it, we’ll do it properly and have a good crack at it. Who knows, off the basis of that structure we can then do a high riding SUV, for example,” which alludes to the versatility of the platform the Hyundai ute will sit on.
When posed with a question of whether an impending Hyundai ute could also rival more performance-oriented offerings like the Volkswagen Amarok V6, the COO said that it could be a possibility. “I think so. Why not? We’ve got the credentials to build any product we put our mind to, and that’s proven more recently with the N series, and Genesis. We’ve got the ability to do anything we put our minds to,” he said.
Considering the runaway-success of the Toyota Hilux (which dominated sales charts last year), would you consider Korean when picking your next ute?