Continues to Study Pickup for U.S. Buyers
Following recent news after South Korea signed a free trade agreement with the United States, Hyundai is contemplating using its new 'BH' rear wheel drive platform for a lot more than sedans, coupes, and sports cars.
"The new chassis opens up new doors. We're considering using it to build a pickup," says Miles Johnson, a Hyundai product public relations manager.
The 'BH' architecture was highlighted by Hyundai during the 2007 New York Auto Show. It served as the foundation for the Concept Genesis full-size luxury sedan, which was also powered by Hyundai's all-new DOHC 32-valve 4.6-liter 'Tau' V8 engine.
"Concept Genesis was a look at our new flexible architecture. It's scalable. And a rear wheel drive, V8 pickup based on it could be something that we build. We're studying this very closely," says Johnson.
If 'BH' does spawn a pickup, Hyundai would be following Honda's build approach instead of mimicking truck offerings from General Motors, Ford, Dodge, Nissan, and Toyota.
The midsize unibody Honda Ridgeline uses a heavily modified, car-based chassis for its underpinnings instead of traditional body-on-frame construction. The advantage of such a setup is a more comfortable ride, better handling, and under-box trunk space, by using an independent rear suspension instead of rear leaf springs and a solid rear axle. Disadvantages include potential towing and hauling limitations and the lower ground clearance of a soft-roader.
Unlike the Honda Ridgeline though, which uses a front-wheel biased, all-wheel-drive system, the Hyundai's rear-wheel-drive solution could work better for carrying heavy loads over the rear wheels. The 'BH' platform is actually more similar to GM's 'Zeta' rear-drive architecture, which will be used for the 2009 Chevrolet Camaro sports car, 2010 Chevrolet Impala sedan, and, we've been speculating, could lead to the return of the Chevrolet El Camino.
'BH' isn't the only thing that's flexible, so is the 'Tau' V8. Hyundai says the new eight cylinder motor can produce well over 300-horsepower in its current form and Johnson adds, "We can increase its displacement to get more power if we're going to use it in a pickup." A 'Tau'-propelled pickup would also have two extra cylinders over the Ridgeline's 255-hp 3.5-liter V6.
Johnson also said that Hyundai is studying offering a compact pickup, not based on the 'BH' platform. This truck would likely be powered by a four-cylinder engine and would be front-wheel-drive. Its specs would be similar to the small Chevy pickup we recently contemplated.
Johnson gave no indication when a decision would be made regarding either truck, or where they might be manufactured.