Trucks are hot. About 20% of all new vehicles sold in America are trucks. However Korean manufacturer Kia does not sell one here. Its corporate cousin Hyundai has the Santa Cruz. But so far there is no Kia pickup truck available in the US.
But the company does make one. It’s called the Bongo. It’s a cab-over truck, like the original Optimus Prime Transformer toy, which means that the driver sits above the engine to save space. It’s diesel, but Kia also makes an all-electric version. You can order one with a manual transmission. But you can’t order one in the U.S.
The Bongo is a cab-over commercial truck
A Kia pickup truck would fill one gaping hole in that manufacturers lineup in the U.S. There has been speculation for years that Kia will build a truck on the Telluride platform.
But, since it would compete with the Hyundai Santa Cruz, maybe Kia should bring the Bongo here and sell it as a fleet vehicle. The Bongo seats three or five and is as much pickup as it is flatbed.
Kia Bongos are popular in South America and Asia and the company has converted them into passenger vans, trucks, and commercial vans. The Ceres is the heavier-duty version. The company has made Bongos, or the K-Series depending on the market, since 1980.
Some Bongos have made their way to the U.S.
Many cars and trucks that are popular in other parts of the world can’t be sold here because of strict US crash and emissions rules. Though commercial vehicles are usually held to a different standard, it’s unclear if the Bongo could be imported here.
But, there is a very cool EV version of the Kia Bongo 3 which can go 131 miles on a charge.
Can we expect a new Kia pickup truck?
Kia has teased us with a truck before. Way back in 2000 we saw concept versions of a Telluride SUV with pickup bed. It wasn’t particularly pretty. It also wasn’t built.
Since then a steady stream of news has leaked out of South Korea that Kia is working on Honda Ridgeline competitor. The current Telluride platform has been bandied about as the ideal platform for a new Kia pickup truck because it’s stout, it can tow 5,500 pounds, and has a powerful V6. Though a truck built on a Telluride platform would be a unibody truck, the Ford Maverick, Ridgeline, and Santa Cruz are all unibody pickups.
There has even been talk of the new Kia pickup truck being all-electric and competing with the Rivian R1T. But it looks like the Kia pickup truck idea has been shelved.
The Mojave Kia pickup truck never made it to production
In 2004 there was a Kia pickup truck. The company showed off the Mojave concept truck, but that truck never made it beyond a few concept renderings.
Could the new 2023 Kia Telluride platform be the basis for a new truck? It’s hard to say, but it we had a Magic 8 Ball, we think it would say “signs point to yes.”
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