The first electric dual-cab ute on sale in Australia might not wear Toyota, Ford, Isuzu or Tesla badging – instead, it could come from struggling South Korean carmaker SsangYong.
As part of a wider electric vehicle (EV) brand announcement overnight, SsangYong confirmed its future electric range will include an "EV pick-up" – more than likely of a similar size to the brand's current offering in the 4x4 dual-cab ute segment, the recently-facelifted Musso.
"Now starting with [the] Korando e-Motion [electric mid-size SUV], the company plans to expand its green car range with a mid-sized EV and EV pick-up", the marque said in a statement.
Launch timing for the new model has yet to be confirmed – particularly it has yet to receive a public development codename, let alone a production nameplate – though expect it to launch in 2023 or 2024, around one or two years after SsangYong's second electric vehicle hits the market, the 'J100' family SUV.
While a prototype for the electric ute has yet to be spotted – and likely won't be for a number of years – CarAdvice has created a computer illustration of how the new pick-up could look, based on teaser sketches of the rugged J100 medium- to large-sized electric SUV released overnight.
Above: Teaser sketches for the upcoming SsangYong 'J100' electric SUV. Top of story: CarAdvice's interpretation of how the EV ute could look, based on J100 sketches.
Expect SsangYong to strive to match or approach the capabilities of the current, diesel-powered Musso for the new electric ute, including a multi-tonne braked towing capacity, circa-800kg payload (in range-topping Ultimate guise), and dual-motor all-wheel drive.
Confirmation of power, torque, driving range and charging times also remains a fair way out.
Also yet to be confirmed is whether the ute will come to Australia, given the brand's first electric vehicle, the Korando e-Motion, remains "under consideration" for a local launch and yet to be locked in.
The electric ute's announcement comes as part of a new 'self-rescue plan' to recover from the marque's financial struggles – after filing for bankruptcy in South Korea late last year – which will see SsangYong "accelerate its new-car development programme in preparation for its future" – including the new electric ute – and restructure its business to grow sales and look for a new investor.
Above: Facelifted SsangYong Musso diesel ute. Bottom of story: Pre-facelift SsangYong Musso XLV Ultimate.
"By renewing confidence in the brand, ensuring its survival in the rapidly changing automotive marketplace, and achieving future growth, SsangYong is aiming to quickly end the company’s rehabilitation procedures, and create an environment that leads to a successful M&A by looking for a new investor that will commit to continuous future investment," it said in a statement.
Yong Won Chung, SsangYong Motors receiver, added: "We are establishing a strong foothold for corporate rehabilitation through a successful M&A and putting our very best efforts into new car development by addressing the rapidly changing automotive trends.
"In addition, we are expanding the line-up of eco-cars, discovering future growth opportunities such as new business models, and preparing for renewed competitiveness."
Despite a bankruptcy filing in South Korea late last year, SsangYong's Australian arm has continued to operate "business as usual".
Should the new electric Korean ute adopt similar proportions to the current Musso, it could be the only all-electric model in its class for the foreseeable future, as the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Toyota HiLux and other key rivals are all looking to hybrid power for their eco-friendly models.
An electric version of the GWM Ute is offered in China, though there's no indication it will make its way Down Under.
The majority of electric utes either coming soon or now available globally fall into the segment above, namely full-size, American-style models such as the Ford F-150 Lightning, Rivian R1T, GMC Hummer EV and Tesla Cybertruck.
Stay tuned to CarAdvice for all the latest on SsangYong's upcoming electric ute as more details emerge in the coming months and years.