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Automotive

Hyundai rules out combustion-engine ute, hints at electric model


Hyundai has hinted it may bring an electric ute to market, but appears to have closed the door on it featuring a combustion engine.

“I know that I have had many, many discussions with the Australian markets and I know that there’s a big demand for [a ute] and I really respect that. But to start developing vehicles on [an] ICE basis doesn’t make any sense,” said Thomas Schemera, Hyundai Motor Group’s executive vice president of product and strategy.

“In our long-range plan, we have many, many strategic plans. I would say embedded we have a lot of things in the pipeline,” he said, asked about any plans for a ute.

“Nothing has been confirmed yet. But I can imagine there is a way to showcase and to compose vehicles like that, for example, for Australia or for the US, we [will] make it happen.”

Mr Schemera also noted Hyundai isn’t developing electric vehicles to necessarily sit in pre-existing segments, and is thinking outside the box.

“It is not all about the business case… It is also pioneering, trying things out, setting trends… seeing the opportunity rather than the risks,” he said.

Hyundai currently sells only one ute, the Tucson-based Santa Cruz. It’s not available in Australia as it isn’t produced in right-hand drive.

Sister brand Kia confirmed earlier this year it’s developing two utes – “a dedicated electric pickup truck and a strategic model for emerging markets” – that are due before 2027.

It says it’ll produce one of the utes alongside an SUV in the USA from 2024, and mentioned both would be mid-sized models. This suggests it’ll have an electric counterpart to the likes of the Ford Ranger.

Following this announcement, Automotive News reported one of the utes would be a global body-on-frame model around the size of a Ranger, and could feature combustion power.

The other ute could potentially use the E-GMP architecture, which can be stretched to support vehicles as large as the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq 7 and Kia EV9.

The Concept EV9 measures 2055mm wide, 1790mm tall, and 4930mm long with a 3100mm wheelbase. The Seven’s wheelbase is even longer at 3200mm.

While the electric ute segment is fledgling, most of the vehicles that have either been confirmed or have already gone on sale have been larger than the likes of the Ranger.

These include the Rivian R1T, as well as the even larger Ford F-150 Lightning, Chevrolet Silverado EV, and the frequently delayed Tesla Cybertruck.

Ram has also teased an electric ute, the 1500 BEV.

The Chinese have been making the most headway in what you could call the “standard size” ute market.

Geely this week revealed its Radar RD6, a dedicated electric pickup that’ll be the first of a line of electric utes and SUVs under its newly established Radar Auto division.

While it hasn’t confirmed dimensions yet, it doesn’t appear to be as large as the likes of the F-150 Lightning.

SAIC Motor has already introduced an electric version of the LDV T60, while Nissan’s Chinese joint venture Dongfeng has a Navara-based electric ute called the Rich 6 EV.





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