In early May, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President at Kia Motors America, Michael Cole, spoke with MotorTrend in an interview and hinted at the automaker getting a pickup truck of their own. Who knew pickup trucks would make such a comeback with SUVs and crossovers over-saturating the market? Although Cole refused to confirm or deny the possibility of a pickup truck with a Kia nameplate, enthusiasts began to talk, and an artist by the name of St00k on KiaTellurideForums put together a rendering of a Kia Telluride Lifestyle truck. Now that the render has been circulating, there are a couple of key points Kia should keep in mind if they do enter the truck market.
This is the big one. This is what makes all the other points on this list mute. With the way the truck market is shaping up, and with the current resurrection of the midsize pickup truck, entering the market is like walking into a minefield. An automaker will sink or swim, it’s a gamble, and variety may be the only saving grace. Although one should be wary of spreading their resources too thin, putting all their eggs in one basket isn’t a failsafe either. If Kia entered the truck market, the midsize truck segment is the obvious choice with competition starting to bud, but full-size and heavy-duty trucks have their own potential.
Going beyond which niche of the truck market to tackle, a pickup truck needs some serious power these days. The 2020 Kia Telluride is the largest SUV in the automaker’s lineup, and it’s powered by a 3.8-liter V6 engine, able to generate 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. It’s decent, able to offer a towing capacity of 5000 pounds, but the competition can haul as much as 7-or-8,000 pounds. The powertrain will need an upgrade to get truck buyers attention, and since Kia is going all-electric, perhaps they can get that extra torque boost after all.
Personalization and customization is a must these days, and Kia Motors is currently working on that with their electric vehicles using an EV smartphone app. How about for trucks? If we follow the pattern of basing the truck on the Kia Telluride, the SUV has a lot of variations make their debut before the Telluride was released. At SEMA 2018, Kia had five different Telluride concepts on display, all geared towards an adventurous lifestyle. That’s another point Kia will have to deal with – off-road capability. It’s the new thing all pickup trucks are getting, and it’s another hurdle to master for the automaker.
For one thing, a pickup truck is going to need some style to stand out in the truck market. With so many trucks of varying size already out there dominating their respective segments, a pickup truck from Kia Motors needs style. Although the interview mentioned the truck in question would come from Hyundai, it may be a better idea to base the design off of an already popular vehicle, as suggested in the concept art. The 2020 Kia Telluride is boxy, grounded, but also has a clean look from all angles. Owning its own distinct look, the SUV comes with an elongated nameplate goes across the hood and a sculpted rear skid plate with integrated twin exhaust tips. Could a truck bed help or hurt that look?
At the end of the day, the price tag will sway or deter buyers. Compact pickup trucks start around $20,000 while bigger and more powerful trucks can cost as much as $33,000 in their base trim. Finding the sweet spot based on what they can offer is the final mark Kia will need to pass before entering the truck market. Electric vehicles do tend to cost more though. If Kia does release a truck, it would have to be before they become an all-electric automaker. Prices will surely rise until technology gets better.
How about it? Should Kia enter the pickup truck market, or stick with what they do best? They already have a lot on the table, there’s no need to rock the boat. Join the discussion on Miami Lakes Kia social media. You can also find out why the Kia Telluride is so popular when you stop by Miami Lakes Automall for a test drive.