Korean giants Kia and Hyundai are reportedly working on a double-cab bakkie to rival the established players in the segment. Will it be a legitimate contender or a white elephant like the Mercedes-Benz X-Class? Here's what we know so far.
The story first appeared on Australian website CarsGuide, and it suggests that Kia and Hyundai will be offering a double-cab bakkie to the Australian market as early as 2022. Kia Australia's Chief Operating Officer Damien Meredith told the publication that the project hadn't just been approved, but is already underway. "Work has begun,” said Meredith. “We’re talking about a dual-cab, a single-cab - what we’ve requested is the full gambit for the ute, and that (includes) a dual-cab with diesel and petrol (options). When a light commercial range does arrive in Australia, I’d be confident we’d be looking around that 8-10% market share in that range,” Meredith says. “Great product, great pricing and a seven-year warranty - it’s a pretty powerful package.
Why would a bakkie destined for Australia be of interest to South Africa? The key here is the configuration as Australia and South Africa are both right-hand drive markets. Generally, if a mainstream model is confirmed for introduction Down Under, it'd be foolish to dismiss an eventual South African introduction. Also, let's not forget that bakkie culture in Australia is massive much like South Africa.
Naturally, the Koreans will have carefully watched the gestation of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class and subsequent catastrophic lack of sales and will be determined to avoid such a performance. The Koreans won't be playing the high-end luxury vehicle card and assuming that badge prowess will bring people to showrooms. Given the warm responses to the Hyundai Santa Cruz concept from a few years back and subsequent confirmations that it's going into production, it's clear that the Koreans are keen to disrupt this segment on a global basis. There won't be any borrowing from established players either, with the Koreans working on their own platform. Given their past strategy, pricing should be competitive too, with comprehensive warranties only sweetening the deal further.
Kia and Hyundai will have formidable and established opposition in the bakkie space. The Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger are the 2 dominant players, with the Isuzu D-Max following in hot pursuit. The rest of the segment is occupied by the Volkswagen Amarok, Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton to name but a few. Watch this space, the bakkie segment is only just hotting up.