The bosses of Hyundai and Kia have shed light on each brand's upcoming SUV rollout, set to complete their respective line-ups by the end of next year.
Speaking with industry journal Automotive News, Woonhee Lee, CEO for Hyundai Motor Group, said two new crossovers and a light pickup truck are in the brand's plans, which should help grow Hyundai's market share in North America.
At the top of the range, Hyundai will launch a full-size eight-seater model above the current Santa Fe, expected to be named the Palisade, previewed by the HDC-2 Grandmaster concept at the Busan motor show in June. Currently, the brand offers a Grand Santa Fe in North America based on the previous-generation Santa Fe.
Such a model will compete directly with the Chevrolet Traverse and Toyota Highlander (Kluger) in the United States, and Lee confirmed the company's SUV flagship will launch in North America during the second half of 2019, and be imported from Korea – indicating it could be a global product.
Above: Hyundai's upcoming full-size SUV
Hyundai's CEO added an entry-level crossover is due to arrive Stateside around the same time, slotting below the already compact Kona. There's no word on what the new model will be called, though internally it is codenamed 'QX' – Infiniti reference, anyone?
"Our strategy is to launch more SUVs. We will have a full line-up. We are trying to increase our adaptability. When the SUV market grows, we will be able to match that growth," Lee told Automotive News, adding he expects growth to continue for at least the next five years.
Unlike its Hyundai equivalent, the Telluride will be produced at Kia's West Point facility in Georgia, while the entry-level model – set to be based on the SP Concept (below) shown at India's Auto Expo in March – will be imported from Korea.
The latter is likely the same vehicle planned for an Australian introduction late next year, as the Rio-based Stonic is currently exclusive to the Korean and European regions. and ruled out for our market.
"We expect our performance in the U.S. market to rebound soon," said Han-Woo Park, Kia Motors CEO.
Currently, Kia's North American 'utility' line-up consists of the Niro hybrid, Sedona (Carnival), Sorento and Sportage. These models contributed 41 per cent of the brand's US volume, despite light trucks (including SUVs) account for 69 per cent of the US's light vehicle sales.
Lee said he wants Hyundai's utility range to account for around 60 per cent, though that could take three years to fulfil, while Park also said Kia needs to 'urgently' increase its SUV volume in the States.
Kia's sales were down 1.3 per cent in the US last month despite the overall market being up 0.5 per cent. A pickup truck is also on the cards, though Park said there's no plans immediate plans for the time being.
These developments come after Hyundai announced at the global launch of the Kona last year it plans to launch to new SUV models – one above the Santa Fe and one below the Kona – before 2020.
So far, we know the new Kia compact SUV will arrive Down Under either late next year, though it's unclear whether the Telluride will make it here given it's currently slated for left-hand drive production only.
Hyundai, meanwhile, has given no indication on its plans to introduce a flagship crossover locally to sit above the Santa Fe (above), nor its plans to compete in the crossover segment below the Kona.
Since there's still some time until all four vehicles are fully revealed in production forms, we'll have to wait and see what the plans are for the Australian market.
Keep your eyes peeled on CarAdvice for all the latest.