Don't expect Hyundai to step into the pickup truck segment anytime soon, as company President and CEO John Krafcik is not interested in repeating the same mistakes other automotive manufactuers have made.
"Our brand resonates best with families, but that's where we have the lowest market penetration. There's tremendous upside for us in crossovers. … More seven-passenger crossover capacity is No. 1 on our priority list for the U.S," he said.
Phelan suggests this will likely mean Hyundai won't jump into the van (minivan or other) or pickup truck segment, and that makes sense. Hyundai has done a pretty good job lately of creating some buzz for its mainstream Genesis, Elantra, Sonata and eye-catching Veloster.
"When we looked at other companies in their growth phase, this (over-expansion) was where the train came off the track," and pressure to boost production led to quality snafus, Krafcik said. Our guess he's talking specfically about Toyota's multibillion-dollar endeavor in San Antonio.
Still, with a seven-passenger, rear-wheel-drive crossover in the works, a good amount of money already dedicated to rear-drive platforms and some new hybrid powertrain technologies, it would not be a stretch for Hyundai's "downmarket" player, Kia, to make a play in the pickup truck segment. The Kia Mojove concept was floated around about 10 years ago, and that was when the company wasn't doing nearly as well or had access to nearly as many resources.
Maybe Hyundai isn't ready to step into the realm of a small- or medium-sized pickup truck, but Kia certainly could, and it could likely have some interesting design and technology options at its disposal. In 2004, Kia played with the idea of a half-ton competitor for the U.S., , but the project was officially killed in 2008 because of unstable gas prices and shrinking interest in a small pickup. At that time, the vehicle was to be based off the new Kia Sorento (concept design by Stanley Ivan pictured).
Whether or not something new could be based off another larger or smaller SUV or crossover remains to be seen. (Remember the Soulster?) Regardless, it almost certainly would require a new assembly plant or some serious modifications to an existing facility. For now, it looks like we'll have to wait and see, but they do have options.