Kia Ute Targets Competitive Edge with Potential Performance Version
June 8, 2023
Australian car enthusiasts are buzzing with excitement over the new developments from Kia Australia. During questioning from the Media this week, the automaker hinted it is seriously considering the development of a performance version of its upcoming utility vehicle (ute), potentially setting it up to compete with the likes of the Ford Ranger Raptor.
The future ute, codenamed internally as TK, is speculated to wear the Tasman moniker, taking its name from the sea that links Australia and New Zealand. When queried about the prospect of a performance-oriented version of the upcoming ute, Roland Rivero, Kia Australia's Product Planning General Manager, did not dismiss the idea. His comments suggest that the company is actively considering such a variant, although its specifics remain undisclosed.
Kia's new offering may encompass a performance version echoing the likes of the Ford Ranger Raptor, or it could be a tuned diesel variant akin to the Toyota HiLux GR Sport, Mitsubishi Triton Xtreme, and Nissan Navara Pro-4X Warrior. The final form is yet to be confirmed, but both options present a thrilling possibility for the brand's ute lineup.
The TK/Tasman ute, whose development initiated in 2020, is being regarded as a "strategic model for emerging markets." Prototypes, camouflaged under the shell of Kia's body-on-frame Mohave SUV, have been spotted during testing phases in South Korea, further intensifying the anticipation around the new model.
Australia plays a significant role in this development, serving as a testing ground and a critical market for Kia's engineers. Roland Rivero also confirmed that a substantial part of the ute's development process was carried out in Australia, shaping the vehicle to suit local conditions and preferences.
Benchmarked against established players like the Ford Ranger, Volkswagen Amarok, and Toyota HiLux, the TK/Tasman ute is set to hit the market in 2025, primarily targeting Australia's ute-loving audience. It is confirmed that the production will take place in South Korea and the ute will be equipped with a diesel engine.
When it comes to powertrain possibilities, speculations surround the 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine from the Kia Stinger or even the newer 3.5-litre engine from Hyundai's latest Genesis luxury cars. However, the specifics are not yet known.
In the context of the Australian market, the ute is projected to impact the landscape significantly by 2025. New offerings from Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Nissan are in the pipeline, with some set to deliver plug-in hybrid and all-electric versions.
Kia Australia has its sight set on securing a 10% share of the local ute market, forecasting approximately 20,000 ute deliveries a year. If these numbers materialize, the Kia Tasman will be a considerable player, potentially outperforming the likes of the Isuzu D-Max in sales.
While design, pricing, and specifications are still to be finalized, the Kia Tasman is close to being "set in concrete." The company is also confident of offering a seven-year warranty, underlining its commitment to quality and durability, despite the heavy-duty workhorse nature of the vehicle.
Overall, Kia's new ute is not only an eagerly anticipated product for Australia but also a globally significant one. It's the result of various business cases coming together from multiple regions, each contributing to a collective business strategy. From the signs of it, Kia's new ute, whether it competes directly with Ford's Ranger Raptor or not, is primed to make a significant mark on the global stage.
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Matt Brand, the esteemed car critic from Car Sauce, offers unparalleled expertise on all things automotive. From new car releases to pre-owned options, he provides in-depth analysis and honest evaluations to guide readers through the car-buying process. Join us as he delves into the exciting world of motoring.