A Hyundai ute looks set to become a reality, following a hint from the company's US chief.
Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski was quoted by Autonews as suggesting that the pickup/truck/ute segment is one that cannot be ignored - and it appears clear the brand is aiming to expand its commercial vehicle offering following spy shots of a new large van range making their way to CarAdvice (see image above).
"Trucks and CUVs as a percent of our total sales is relatively low," Zuchowski said. "That will change over the next couple of years because the growth and the margin is all in the truck market right now, so we need to be better represented there."
The move would fill a hole in Hyundai's current global lineup, but there's no word yet whether the model would be tailored for the US market, which prefers much larger pickup trucks, or a Toyota HiLux-sized model which is more popular in the rest of the world. Perhaps both are options.
If a ute were to become available, Hyundai Australia would jump at the chance according to Hyundai Australia public relations general manager Bill Thomas.
"We'd take it in a flash, because being a Hyundai it'd be tough, good-looking and well priced," Thomas said. "Our iMax van is very popular and so would a ute be - but all this is just fantasy for now, because as far as we know, there are no plans to build one."
Utes and vans aren't the only path to growth, according to Zuchowski, who slated the company's plans to launch 12 new models over the next three years, including addressing a range of other segments in which the brand is not currently present.
"We've got fairly aggressive growth plans for the next five years, and just like it was in 2010 through 2012, that growth will be driven by a really aggressive product cadence," Zuchowski was quoted as saying at last week's 2014 New York auto show. "Those new products are going to drive good growth, and half of that growth is going to come from an increased presence in the CUV segments."
CUVs or Crossover Utility Vehicles are set to be a boom segment for the South Korean brand. Over the weekend Hyundai showcased a new ix25 (pictured above) baby SUV at the 2014 Beijing auto show, and it is believed to be studying a luxury-focused Genesis SUV, too.
"Everybody's looking at this B-segment CUV," he said. "We're looking very closely at that as a possible way to add incremental volume, too."