Last week, rumors flew around suggesting that Hyundai was considering throwing its hat into the pickup truck segment through a link-up with Chrysler. Today, we have learned the venture has been shelved, reportedly as a result of a manufacturing dispute.
To get a feel for consumer response, Hyundai first held focus groups in California and Texas to gauge reactions to a dressed-up Ram 1500 with Hyundai emblems, a Hyundai-style grille, and interior revisions. The response was reputedly positive enough to warrant additional corporate consideration.
According to a source at Hyundai Motors Corporation (parent company of Hyundai Motor America) via PickupTrucks.com, however, the Korean automaker and Chrysler couldn't come to terms on production volume. A manufacturing agreement between the two would help Chrysler reduce costs of producing its Ram pickup line by utilizing existing capacity. Hyundai would benefit from not having to incur the development expenses of conceiving and birthing a truck in-house.
When pressed by PickupTrucks.com, Hyundai presented its official stance on the issue.
"Hyundai Motor Co. denies that there are any current plans to bring a pickup truck of any type into the U.S. now or in the foreseeable future. Hyundai is not in discussion with Chrysler in regard to a selling a rebadged Chrysler Corp. pickup truck, or any other vehicle, in the U.S."
If Hyundai decides to expand its U.S. portfolio with a light-duty truck, it will face a very steep climb. Domestic full-size offerings in the form of the Ford F-Series, GM’s Silverado/Sierra twins, and Ram trucks dominate the high-profit segment and attract notoriously loyal fans. Foreign competition stems from the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan, but sales figures do not come close to matching Detroit iron. Nevertheless, Hyundai reportedly intends to enter the U.S. commercial-vehicle market by the end of this decade, pickup truck or no pickup truck.
Last year, Chrysler and Nissan nixed an agreement where the 2012 Titan would use underpinnings from the Ram 1500. After the deal was canned, Nissan is set to develop its next-generation full-size Titan in-house, possibly for 2014. The current Titan, which is showing its age, first debuted in 2004.
Sources: PickupTrucks.com, Reuters