More boring industry news from Korea — read it if you're interested, move on if you're not. We'd been told a while back by Automotive News and our friends at PickupTrucks.com to expect a pickup truck from the folks at Hyundai or their brand-brothers at Kia. Despite statements from Byung Mo Ahn, the new chairman and group CEO of KMA and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia that a pickup was to be built in the Georgia plant, we were told today here in Seoul by Dr. Dong-Jin Kim, Vice-Chairman and CEO of Hyundai that
"we have interest in the pickup truck market and light truck market, but because of oil prices the market is declining. We don't think right now is the right time to introduce one to the market. We investigated when we built the Kia Georgia plant...but in this environment we were forced to give up thoughts of the truck...neither Hyundai nor Kia will produce one...for the U.S."
Well, that pretty much settles that. Now what will Hyundai and Kia do with all that excess capacity in the Georgia plant? Well, Dr. Kim has an answer for that too.
Georgia will be home to
"a new small car. We are planning to have the Georgia plant create...a C-segment car with the excess production capacity."
Nice, a new Kia C-segment car. But wait, wait, there's more. Kia may not end up being the only brand using the platform. Nope, Dr. Kim also told us today
"if the platform is right, don't rule out a Hyundai either."
So there you have it — a pickup truck is nixed and a compact car takes it's place. Given current gas prices, that doesn't sound like the world's worst strategy. In fact, props to Kia/Hyundai for reading the tea leaves and giving us a C-segment car when that's what gas prices and consumer demand are telling them that's what we want. Now if only they make a C-segmentamino out of whatever they end up building down in Georgia — then it'd be pure peaches and cream to us.