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Hyundai in Australia has confirmed that it should have a true Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger rival in Australia by 2023, giving the brand its first real workhorse - and its first entrant into one of the country's biggest segments.
For its part, Hyundai is targeting a 2023 launch date, with production facility locations now being finalised.
"The sooner the better," says Hyundai Australia's boss, JW Lee. "All the time I’m crying and praying whenever I have the chance to bring this issue to headquarters, so the sooner the better.
"(But) 2023 is our target year. It depends on production and the plant. I think the candidate plant is still under study, where we’re going to produce those vehicles is yet to be decided."
That Australia's ute market is both huge and hugely profitable is no secret. We shift, on average, around 210,000 utes per year, with the HiLux (51,705 sales in 2018) and the Ranger (42,144 sales in 2018) taking the lion's share.
But it will likely take time before Hyundai finds itself battling for the top spot, and this is something the brand knows only too well. And so the company's Australian boss is being commendably realistic about where the new workhorse will sit on the sales charts.
"The more sales the better," Mr Lee says. "But I’m not ambitious to take over the ute market. Currently the Mazda BT-50 sales numbers are 15,000 to 17,000 per annum. If we can come close to the Mazda numbers, then we'd be happy."
Just to put that into a little more perspective for you, Mazda sold around 111,000 vehicles total last year in Australia. Hyundai sold 95,000. So if Mr Lee's predictions are correct, then a new workhorse would put Hyundai neck-and-neck with the Japanese brand on total sales.
Hyundai's R&D boss - and performance-car chieftain - Albert Biermann has his eye on the upcoming ute too, telling CarsGuide that he's "ready for anything", and suggesting he'd be happy to add a ute to his go-fast fleet.
"You have to be ready for everything from Hyundai and Kia, so everything is possible," Biermann says. "So there are no limitations.
"There's no clear plan for that, but I mean you can expect everything when the time is right and the marketplace. And, yeah, we are moving."
It would be easy to think of a go-fast Hyundai ute as a Ranger Raptor rival, but we actually think it would end up being something of a successor to the HSV Maloo - more focused on the road than going fast off it.
And Mr Biermann isn't the only one eyeing a new dual-cab's potential, with Genesis boss Manfred Fitzgerald also not ruling out taking his premium wand to the brand's new ute.
Mr Fitzgerald told CarsGuide that, while a Genesis-stamped X-Class rival wasn't confirmed, he also wasn’t ruling it out.
“The sky is the limit there, and also our imagination,” Mr Fitzgerald said. “We are thinking of several things out there, and there are a lot of white spots on the map."
“Let’s see what we come up with in the future. I wouldn’t rule out anything.”
Forget the lifestyle-focused Santa Cruz pick-up concept, what Hyundai (and Kia) are talking about here is a serious workhorse offered in single-, dual- and cab-chassis guises and with a choice of petrol or diesel engines and four-wheel drive.
And yes, that means a one-tonne payload and a three-tonne (at least) braked towing capacity.
Take this, from Hyundai's COO Scott Grant: “We have a fairly strong and arduous list of minimum starting positions in terms of towing and other things that you need in Australia, otherwise you are not in the game."
Almost every Hyundai is tuned right here in Australia, undergoing a seriously comprehensive suspension program so vehicles can better handle our, erm, challenging road surfaces.
And the ute will be no different, with plans to localise the vehicle here, as well as put it through its hot weather testing paces.
"As with pretty much all Hyundai vehicles, it will be tested here in Australia. Hot-weather testing happens here, so there's no problem with durability," the brand's Bill Thomas has told media in the past.