[THE INVESTOR] Hyundai Motor on Aug. 23 said it is planning to debut a pickup truck in the US, hinting at the pending production of the Santa Cruz, its first crossover pickup truck whose concept was unveild in 2015.
“We are reviewing plans to launch a pickup truck for the US market,” a Hyundai spokesperson told The Investor, declining to confirm whether the car will be the Santa Cruz or not.
Earlier, Reuters reported that a new pickup truck, based on the Santa Cruz concept, has recently received the green light for development from Hyundai’s top brass in Seoul, citing Michael J. O’Brien, vice president of corporate and product planning at Hyundai Motor America.
Cracking the popular pickup truck market seems a right move for the Korean carmaker that has suffered falling sales in its major market, as US consumers continue to shift away from sedans in favor of larger cars. Last year, almost 2.7 million pickup trucks were sold in the US, up 6 percent from a year earlier. The increase was fueled by the popularity of midsize pickups that jumped 26 percent on-year. The sales of pickup trucks, which made up more than 15 percent of 17.5 million auto sales in the US last year, is expected to further grow, according to industry watchers.
But penetrating the truck market won’t be an easy task for Hyundai, according to CNBC, as truck buyers are known for their loyalty to American brands such as Ford F-Series and Chevy Silverado, and are averse to buying foreign truck brands.
Hyundai has been struggling to gain market share in the SUV-loving country. Its sales in the US declined 7.4 percent on-year to 346,360 units in the first half of this year.
To regain momentum, the carmaker is planning to roll out its compact SUV Kona in December.
It will also unveil a new version of its Santa Fe SUV next year, as well as a brand new 7-passenger crossover -- replacing the current three-row Santa Fe -- in early 2019, followed by a redesigned Tucson SUV in 2020, according to Reuters.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)