like we'll never get to say hello to a production Kia Mojave
good friend Ray Wert from Jalopnik is
on a press junket with Hyundai, driving the all-new Genesis pseudo-luxury
sedan in South Korea. Ray just received official word that Hyundai
Motor Group has cancelled plans for its affiliate, Kia Motors,
to build a pickup for the U.S. Market.
mid-size Kia truck was going to be produced at Kia's new manufacturing
plant in Georgia but Dr. Dong-Jin Kim, vice chairman and CEO
of Hyundai, cited strong sales headwinds, high fuel prices and
shrinking market share for small trucks as the reason the program
was cancelled. Instead, a C-body sedan will be built on the Georgia
assembly line, alongside the next-gen Sorento SUV, to
fill its 300,000 unit capacity.
News, Kia Motors Corporation (KMC) is prepping to sell
a domestic built mid-size pickup in the United States by 2011.
been studying the U.S. truck market for several years. In 2004 the
South Korean auto manufacturer brought the KCV-4
Mojave concept pickup to the Chicago
Auto Show. But Kia's truck production plans have ebbed and waned during
multiple management shakeups inside Kia Motors America (KMA). There
have been four executive level changes in the past three years and
seven since 1999.
say the pickup has finally gotten the buy-in it needs from Byung
Mo Ahn, the new chairman and group CEO of KMA and Kia Motors Manufacturing
Georgia (KMMG). Mr. Ahn replaced ousted Kia Motors CEO Len Hunt in
February 2008. He previously ran KMA from 1999 to 2001.
As we heard
in 2006, the new pickup is reportedly based on the next-generation,
front-wheel-drive (FWD) Sorento and will use that sport
utility vehicle's unibody platform and V6 engine. The current Sorento
is rear-wheel-drive (RWD) and body-on-frame.
a unibody pickup, Kia's strategy will follow the lead set by Honda's
Ridgeline instead of traditional small trucks like the Chevrolet
Colorado or Toyota
Tacoma. We're expecting Kia's pickup will also offer all-wheel-drive
(AWD) like the Ridgeline. The Ridgeline uses FWD during dry-pavement
cruising, for improved fuel economy, but can send up to 70-percent
of the torque to the rear wheels in slippery conditions.
truck will be built at Kia's soon-to-be-completed $1.2 billion assembly
plant in West Point, Georgia, on the same line as the Sorento and a
to-be-determined third vehicle. The new factory will have the capacity
to produce 300,000 cars and trucks annually. By building it in the
United States, Kia will avoid the 25% federal import tax
(aka 'Chicken Tax') levied on pickup trucks built overseas, though
that tariff is being phased out between now and 2017 through a special
free trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea.
yet-to-be-named, Kia renewed its trademarks for the names Mojave and
Mohave in August of 2007.
to sell a mid-size truck is a risky one. The segment has been steadily
shrinking, down 37% in the past five years as new buyers instead bought
full-size trucks. Will American buyers want an unproven Korean truck,
especially a unibody? Honda only sold 42,795 Ridgelines last year,
down 15% from 2006. And tertiary truck brands like Isuzu (which is
leaving the American market)
and Mitsubishi have only sold in the low thousands. But high fuel prices
are rocking big truck sales, forcing some buyers to look for more fuel
efficient pickups. A large shift in truck sales may give the Korean
manufacturer the opening it needs for this truck to succeed.