Hyundai to develop pickup trucks for U.S. market

NEW YORK-- South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor is pushing forward with a plan to develop pickup trucks for the U.S. market, CNBC reported Tuesday, a move by the company to crack open a highly brand-loyal segment.

According to the report, Hyundai's executives in the United States were told by the head office in Korea to go ahead with the development of a pickup truck in a strong indication that it will eventually be marketed in the U.S.

Hyundai is likely to use the pickup concept vehicle Santa Cruz, unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show in 2015, as the base of the development, CNBC said, quoting the company's U.S. CEO, who at the time said selling a pickup would be a logical move for Hyundai, which successfully expanded into crossover utility vehicles.

In an interview with reporter, Michael O'Brien, vice president of Hyundai's U.S. unit, confirmed that the Seoul headquarters accepted his office's request to develop a pickup truck. Hyundai's dealers in the U.S. have been pressing the company to invest more aggressively in SUVs and trucks to make up for the weakening market for sedans, said.

The market for pickup trucks is hard to penetrate, with buyers heavily loyal to specific models from brands like Ford and General Motors. CNBC noted that Toyota and Nissan combined had just 7 percent of the market in 2017. Hyundai is taking a smarter approach by going after small truck customers, the report said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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