Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Has Kia and Hyundai's dual-cab ute been cancelled? Future suddenly sounds shaky for Korean Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger fighter as brand says "we've received no validation it's going ahead"

The tone has changed on Kia's ute. (image credit: kksstudio)

Last we week we reported on how Kia's (and so also Hyundai's ute) definitely wouldn't be appearing in 2022 as we had been expecting, but a closer look at that interview suggests the entire project can now be slapped with a question mark, with Kia in Australia telling us "we've had no validation it's going ahead".

That marks a significant change in tone from Kia, who told CarsGuide in 2019 that "work had begun" on the brand's first proper rival to vehicles like the HiLux, Ranger, Isuzu D-Max, Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton, with Aussie executives eager to carve off a slice of our massive dual-cab market.

"Work has begun,” Kia Australia COO Damien Meredith told us in 2019. “We’re talking about a dual-cab, a single-cab - what we’ve requested is the full gamut for the ute, and that (includes) a dual-cab with diesel and petrol (options).”

The Kia Australia executive went on to flag a localised ride and handling program (which, if 2022 was still the launch date, should be starting about now), and suggested the brand could capture some 10 per cent of the dual-cab market Down Under.

But fast forward to 2021, and when we should be counting down the months to the dual-cab ute's arrival, the language has very much changed. Now, it's more a matter of "if" than "when".

This is Mr Meredith again, this time speaking at the launch of the new Kia Niro last week.

"We still haven’t got a clear direction on what’s going to happen with LCV, that’s the honest truth,” he told us. "We would hope that in the next couple of years that something does occur with LCV for our brand, not just for Australia, but globally."

According to Kia in Australia, the project has gone dark, with no word out of Kia HQ in Korea on where it's at - or even if it's ongoing - and certainly no talk of a potential launch date.

In fact, Mr Meredith told us he'd had no confirmation it was even still on the table.

"We haven’t been given any validation that it’s going ahead at this point," he said.

His comments, coupled with radio silence from Korea on all things ute, does inspire questions over the project's status.

But that's not only option, of course. It's also entirely possible that the project, though delayed, powers on, only Kia and Hyundai are playing their cards a little closer to their chest, preferring to wait for an official announcement.

The size of the pie in Australia alone is big enough to suggest they wouldn't walk away. Remember, Kia thinks it can secure some 20,000 sales in this market. Based on last year's sales figures, Kia's target market share that would make it the third-best-selling 4X4 dual cab in Australia, trailing only the HiLux and Ranger, but finishing ahead of models like the Isuzu D-Max, Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan Navara.

And that's before you cast an eye over the rest of the Asia Pacific region - and anywhere else dual-cab utes are popular, for that matter.

Either way, while we know 2022 won't be happening, we haven't given up hope yet.

"The good thing is that if it does occur then I think we’ll have a lot of ownership on it, because we’re a big market," says Mr Meredith.