South Korean automaker Kia has announced that it will be entering the booming double-cab ute segment by launching an all-new model in Australian showrooms in 2025. This move will pose a challenge to the top-selling Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger utes, which have dominated the market in Australia for the past six years. The as-yet unnamed Kia ute is expected to be a genuine and serious rival to the existing models and will likely have a significant impact on Kia’s sales in the country. Kia dealers in Australia were informed that the new ute, coded as TK, will be developed to have the same towing and carrying capacity as the top-selling utes currently available, with a maximum tow rating of up to 3500kg and a maximum payload of nearly 1000kg. The model will use diesel rather than petrol propulsion, with the specific engines that will power the vehicle yet to be announced.
While Kia looks set to take on the heavy-duty diesel-powered double-cab ute market in Australia, it remains to be seen whether its South Korean sibling Hyundai will adopt a version of its vehicle or opt for something different. Hyundai dealers have reportedly been examining the possibility of the Santa Cruz light-duty “lifestyle” pick-up. Considering that the two companies share many models with different bodywork, it remains to be seen which direction Hyundai will take.
It appears that Kia has chosen to go it alone, bucking the industry trend of forming partnerships. This approach means that the automaker has done more in-depth testing on this vehicle than any other in its range. This ute is understood to have undergone exhaustive testing over the past three and a half years, with Kia reportedly purchasing a fleet of Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger vehicles to use as benchmarks throughout the engineering program.
While spy photos have emerged of camouflaged prototypes that have design cues from Kia’s Mohave SUV, these may be early test “mules” built using existing parts to cover the underpinnings of the new model. Therefore, there are still no clues about the final design of the model that will debut a new heavy-duty ladder-frame chassis for the company.
Several Kia dealers have expressed their excitement about the forthcoming ute, stating that it is “long overdue” and that the brand is ready to take the next step in its growth in Australia. While Kia has been tight-lipped about the project, the company has acknowledged that it will enter the pick-up market in the next few years.