Kia is growing strongly in Australia, but there are still a few holes in its range. Along with a small SUV to sit below the Sportage, the Korean brand is missing out on a slice of the humungous light-commercial vehicle pie Down Under.
Although it could take a while, that looks set to change – provided head office can commit to doing things properly, with a proper range of four- and two-wheel drive dual-cab options, along with the potential for load-bed and cab-chassis vehicles.
Speaking yesterday with media in Melbourne, Kevin Hepworth, Kia Australia communications boss, said the brand's light-commercial vehicles would need to be tough enough to handle real work, not just plaything for lifestyle-oriented weekenders.
“It has got to be something that has credentials as a work vehicle, not just a playtime sports car, it has got to be a real working car,” he said of the brand's LCV range. Nothing is approved or official yet, but the company is "fairly confident" it could see such a line-up in 2022.
Above: Hyundai Santa Cruz concept
That line-up would ideally include a ute, light trucks and a van, although there's no confirmation any of those vehicles will be made available. Previously, the company offered the Pregio van and the K2900 light truck, but neither is currently offered in showrooms.
Although Hyundai hasn't yet released its ute, the Kia LCV range would also likely share a chunk of its underpinnings with its cross-town partner.
The fact Kia is keen for a range of light-commercials isn't surprising, given the popularity of cars like the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux. They're the second- and first-placed vehicles on VFACTS sales charts respectively, while the Nissan Navara, Isuzu D-Max and Mitsubishi Triton are all strong sellers.