According to Carscoops.com, the camouflaged prototype or tester was apparently spotted on the road in South Korea and seems to borrow heavily from the body-on-frame Kia Mohave SUV, a model that is not sold in the U.S. currently. The prototype pickup borrows several body panels and the front end from the Mohave, has four doors and generous ground clearance, and seems to be a midsize pickup (in terms of U.S. market classes). It also looks like it might be a competent off-road vehicle and, if it is actually an in development electric pickup, might be a likely future competitor of the Rivian R1T rather than the Ford F-150 Lightning.
That raises an important question which we can’t answer yet: is this pickup prototype actually electric? We won’t know for sure until Kia makes an official announcement about it, but it is perhaps more likely to be an EV, or at least an electrified pickup, than not simply because Kia is very committed to expanding its electrified model lines and EVs in particular. A traditional gas (or diesel) powered pickup would be something of a step backward, diluting Kia’s long term electrified product plans.
A midsize electric pickup, depending on its on-sale timeframe and price, could be a sales success for Kia and vault it into first place in a currently wide open market niche. The only midsize electric pickup on sale currently is the Rivian R1T which starts at $73,000 and is only sold in relatively small numbers so far due to Rivian’s difficulty ramping production as a start-up manufacturer. Toyota seems to have a midsize electric pickup in the works too, but Kia already has more EV manufacturing up and running and seems a step ahead. Given that Kia also has an 800V charging capability for its larger EVs, is building a new plant to manufacture EVs in the U.S. and has a more established battery supply along with its sister company, Hyundai, there are multiple reasons why Kia could both beat Toyota to market with an electric midsize pickup and outsell them for at least a few years. Further, if Kia can sell their EV pickup at a starting MSRP of around $40,000 - $45,000, Kia may even be able to take sales away from the larger (in size and volume) electric pickup manufacturers, Tesla, Ford, and Chevrolet.
When it comes to gas powered midsize trucks, one reason their sales have struggled at times against the far more popular full-sized pickups in the U.S. market is because of the lower payload and towing capabilities of the midsize pickups, even if, as thedrive.com points out the vast majority of truck owners rarely, if ever, use their trucks for towing or going off-road (and 35% of truck owners don’t even use their pickup beds more than once a year!). At least some truck owners are pragmatic and own pickups because they use them as such though. What’s more, electric midsize pickups can tow as much or more weight as full-sized gas powered rivals, given their torque rich electric motors. So you can bet your truck balls that at least some percentage of full-size truck customers would jump at the chance to get a powerful, fully electric midsize pickup instead of a gas guzzling, or more expensive electric, full-size pickup.
What do you think? Would you be interested in a rugged, midsize fully electric pickup from Kia? What would be the must have specs, if so? Please leave your questions and comments below.
Image courtesy of Kia.
Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 14 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on Twitter for daily KIA EV news coverage.