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At the 2004 Chicago Auto Show, Kia showed its Mojave Concept, a mid-size pickup truck that easily could be built off the next-generation Kia Sorrento SUV's frame. At the time, Kia said it didn't have the capacity to build the Mojave, despite rumors that a production version will debut just 18 months after the 2006 Sorrento breaks cover.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, it is being developed on a parallel track alongside the 2006 Sorrento, and uses a scalable architecture. As a result of this scalability, the mid-size truck will spawn a full-size Korean pickup that will be designed, developed, and sold in concert with Hyundai. Details are sketchy at this point, but the companies are eager to follow the light-truck profit path and will share the costs associated with developing a family of body-on-frame pickups and SUVs. The 3.8-liter V6 of the Mojave show truck will make its way under the hood in both naturally aspirated and forced induction forms. A joint-venture V8 is possible, though the companies would like to avoid the expense of developing and producing a purpose-built engine.
This suggests Hyundai and Kia will copy a page from both Nissan's and Toyota's light truck play book. You can expect the scalable architecture to draw heavily upon lesson learned by Nissan with its Titan/Frontier pickups in an attempt to keep development costs low. Mid- and full-size SUVs also will be drawn from this platform to further dilute development costs and increase profitability. If V8 development proves too costly or runs behind schedule (the full-size pickup is expected to debut in the 2010 model year), the V6 will be the only engine offered initially. Like Toyota's T100 and Tundra, this will place the Korean pickups at a distinct disadvantage. However, it also will allow buyers to become comfortable with the idea of a Korean full-size pickup before a V8-powered model is ready.—CAS