In an apparent confirmation of a report that emerged back in May, Kia’s Chief Operating Officer in Australia has announced that the long rumoured, and discussed, rival for the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max has officially been cancelled.
A topic branded as “sensitive” by the Korean marque, the declaration by Damien Meredith to carsguide.com.au seemingly brings the curtain down on rumours dating back nearly three years.
According to supposed favourable projections, the bakkie, based on sister brand Hyundai’s apparent, but gone quiet, world model rather than the US-only unibody Santa Cruz, would have debuted in 2022 or 2023, powered by an assortment of petrol and diesel engines in single and double cab bodystyles.
Despite expressing a glimmer of hope that the project would be approved by Seoul in the May interview, Meredith, in his latest statement to the publication, said, “I think it’s probably a long shot. We haven’t had any definitive answer from Kia headquarters”.
“We’ve done our homework, but it’s not up to us, it’s up to Kia headquarters, and they just haven’t given us an answer. I think if they had have done it and planned it, then it would have been here by now”.
He also revealed that the proposal for the bakkie came as an unexpected surprise to Kia’s Global CEO, Ho-Sung Song, who upon the Australian executive’s claim of 20 000 projected unit sales a year, more than Kia’s entire line-up Down Under, “nearly fell off his chair”.
“We put together a plan about four years ago and said look we believe we can do this many, and Mr Song nearly fell off his chair and said that’s impossible you couldn’t do that many. But he started counting then he started believing,” Meredith said.
“Every time I see him, he says: ‘I understand what you said Damian, but let’s just wait and see’”.
Meredith however conceded that the call to wait has effectively drawn a line through the bakkie project with it being highly unlikely of progressing any further heading into 2022.