Caught! Hyundai Commercial Van in Europe
Could Counter Sprinter, Transit
In the U.S. market, Hyundai is best-known for its Elantra and Sonata compact and midsize sedans, and has lately made some headway with its premium Genesis sub-brand. But in the rest of the world, the company is a soup-to-nuts provider of vehicular solutions, from tiny B-class subcompacts and commercial trucks ranging from medium-duty cabovers to full-fledged big-rigs. It has also offered a passenger shuttle van to global markets in the form of the rear-drive H-1, a size larger than the short-lived Entourage based on the Kia Sedona. The one type of vehicle missing from Hyundai’s global lineup was a full-fledged commercial-duty van in the form of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or Ford Transit. But if these spy shots are any indication, that void is about to be filled.
The van looks very similar in form and size to the Sprinter, although there are some unanswered questions. We weren't able to get a clear shot of the underbody, but you can just barely make out the shadow of the rear axle "pumpkin," suggesting rear drive.
Although Hyundai doesn't currently sell any diesel-powered models in the U.S., it has a large portfolio of diesel engines globally and several that could be used in the new van. The current H-1 is offered with a 2.5-liter I-4 turbodiesel producing 168 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. This would make the commercial van's output competitive with that of the Sprinter or the Ram ProMaster's upcoming 3.0-liter I-4 diesel making 174 hp and 295 lb-ft. However, if Hyundai is planning on selling in the U.S. market, a gasoline engine would make sense, and the 3.3 or 3.8-liter Lambda V-6 engines could provide an option for buyers that prefer gas power.
If Hyundai does intend a mass-market commercial push in the U.S., a NAFTA-based production facility would make sense to avoid the 25-percent "chicken tax" on imported trucks. The company is reportedly considering building a plant in Mexico, and could source the van for the U.S. market from that base.