To get everyone caught up, Kia’s been toying with a pickup for nearly 20 years, and that’s only counting the timeframe of public deliberations in the U.S. To recap:
In 2007, in the wake of a free trade deal between the U.S. and South Korea that could lead to elimination of the 25% so-called Chicken Tax on imported vans and pickups, Kia Motors then-president Cho Nam-hong said during a press event, “Isn’t it time for Kia Motors to make inroads into the (U.S.) pickup truck market?” It only took a year to get an answer, when Hyundai’s then-CEO Kim Dong-Jin said, “Now is not the right time to produce a pickup truck.” In 2015, Hyundai meanwhile showed its first pickup concept, a seven-year gestation finally resulting in the 2022 Santa Cruz at the end of 2021. Damien Meredith, the chief operating officer of Kia Australia, told CarsGuide in 2019 that a proper work-hard Kia pickup is a go.
Now, five years later, something approaching a fully formed Kia pickup has been spotted and pored over by Woopa TV in a South Korean parking garage. According to The Korean Car Blog, the pickup enters production in early 2025,
The truck’s reportedly called Tasman, a name Kia’s applied to trademark in markets like South Korea and Australia that are expecting it. The body-on-frame hauler said to be about the size of the Ford Ranger or Chevrolet Colorado, sold in the double-cab form that’s as popular overseas as it is here. Having gone through the hassle of developing an old-fashioned BOF chassis, the Tasman is expected to offer two- and four-wheel drive, a low range, at least one differential lock, and a tow rating of around 7,700 pounds. Engines at launch are expected to come from the Hyundai Group’s diesel catalog, plus a potential 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine. This prototype’s also wearing 17-inch wheels in large-ish tires, and sports a double-wishbone suspension in front, leaf springs — with just two leaves — in back.
There’s almost no indication Kia has plans on bringing the Tasman to the U.S., despite the presenter saying the body-on-frame architecture “has the perfect configuration to target the North American market,” and making numerous references to the Tasman’s design recalling popular U.S. offerings like the Kia Telluride, Jeep Gladiator, and Hummer. However, we can see a window of possibility opening a touch wider when the presenter gets to the underbody design. At one point, the auto-generated translation reads, “If you look at the bottom, there is a gap in the middle … there is space left, and I think that a battery pack will go in here and an electric model will come out.” In May 2022, Kia said it planned to launch 14 new EVs by 2027, two of them pickups. One will be “a strategic model for emerging markets,” the other simply described as a “dedicated electric pickup truck.”
Could this be that truck? If it is, it probably won’t be long before we find out. That trade deal to eliminate the Chicken Tax never took effect, so Kia would want to build the rig here to make it competitive, which means supplier agreements and factory arrangements kicking off well in advance of production. If this is the one, check out the vid (with the auto translation on) for some of the features that could come our way.