BUSINESS

Hyundai Motor to launch pickup truck to boost US sales

By Kim Bo-gyung
  • Published : Aug 23, 2017 - 16:57
  • Updated : Aug 23, 2017 - 16:57
Hyundai Motor‘s Santa Cruz crossover truck concept vehicle unveiled at the 2015 Detroit motor show. (Hyundai Motor Group)

Hyundai Motor, South Korea’s No.1 automotive company, will tap into the pickup truck market in the US with the aim of boosting its sluggish sales there, the company said Wednesday.

Michael J. O‘Brien, vice president of corporate and product planning at Hyundai Motor America, said the company’s top management in Seoul had approved plans to go ahead with pickup truck development, according to Reuters.

O’Brien added, the approval is part of Hyundai Motor’s plan to catch up with US motorists’ change in preference of bigger vehicles from sedans.

Automakers in the US sold 10.6 million units of light-trucks, including SUVs, CUVs and pickup trucks, in 2016, up 7.2 percent on-year, according to WardsAuto data.

Hyundai’s soon to be produced pickup truck is expected to resemble the Santa Cruz crossover truck concept vehicle unveiled at the 2015 Detroit motor show.

Santa Cruz concept marks the first vehicle planned and designed by Hyundai Motor America, the company said.

Hyundai Motor currently does not produce any pickup trucks.

“We are reviewing matters related to the pickup truck,” said the spokesperson for Hyundai Motor.

As a late comer to the SUV market, Hyundai Motor will also roll out Kona compact SUV in the US by the year’s end, seeking for a piece of the popular market.

Hyundai Motor has been dealt a blow in US sales, as it has missed out on the SUV boom.

Hyundai sold 54,507 units last June, down 19.3 percent on-year, including sales posted by premium Genesis brand, the company said.

“Pickup trucks are traditionally favored vehicles in the US and owners tend to show strong brand loyalty. Sales of pickups make up a significant part of GM, Ford and other automakers in the US,“ said Kim Pil-soo, an automotive engineering professor at Daelim University.

”US had levied high tax on pickups to protect US-based automakers. But that is no longer the case due to the Korea-US free trade agreement.“

By Kim Bo-gyung (lisakim425@heraldcorp.com)