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A Korean pickup? Hyundai moves forward with plans for a truck

  • Hyundai has given the greenlight to its U.S. division to develop a pickup truck.
  • The pickup will likely look like a small pickup concept called the Santa Cruz that Hyundai first unveiled in 2015.
  • Cracking into the pickup market won't be easy as truck buyers tend to be fiercely loyal.
Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept
Source: Hyundai
Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept

Hyundai is getting into the pickup game.

The Korean automaker's executives in the U.S. have received the OK to develop a pickup truck.

While a final decision has not yet been made on building the truck or when it might hit showrooms, the greenlight from Hyundai's leaders in South Korea is a strong indication we will see a Hyundai pickup in the next several years.

It's likely the new pickup will look a lot like a small pickup concept called the Santa Cruz, which Hyundai first unveiled in 2015. At the time, Hyundai's U.S. CEO said selling a pickup would be a logical move for a company that has successfully expanded into crossover utility vehicles and SUVs.

But cracking the pickup truck market in the U.S. will be much tougher than winning over SUV buyers. Truck buyers are among the most loyal in the auto business and foreign brand pickups have struggled to take sales away from the Ford F-Series, Chevy Silverado and Ram pickups.

In 2017, Toyota and Nissan have combined to capture just 7 percent of the full-size pickup market, according to industry research firm Autodata.

Given the brutally competitive nature of the full-size pickup market in the U.S., Hyundai is taking a smarter approach by targeting small truck buyers.

Honda used that strategy in rolling out its Ridgeline pickup. Even after several years of sales and promotion, Ridgeline remains a laggard in the U.S. pickup market, with sales totaling 21,182 this year.