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RICK KRANZ

Why the rumored Hyundai pickup would be a tough sell

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.
There were rumblings earlier this year that Hyundai was talking to Chrysler about creating a pickup truck for the Korean company.

There were reports Hyundai had conducted clinics in the United States, displaying a pickup based on the Dodge Ram. Hyundai denies there are any U.S. plans for such a truck. However, rumblings of Hyundai’s interest in marketing a Ram-based pickup have failed to disappear.

Over the years, Mazda marketed the B-series pickup here, its version of the Ford Ranger. Mitsubishi had a version of the Dodge Dakota, known as the Raider. Suzuki offers the Equator, essentially a rebadged Nissan Frontier.

The Mazda B series had the most success in the past 10 years, selling about 30,000 trucks in 2000. But sales declined each year to barely 10,000 in 2004. Last year 573 were sold.

The Raider is gone -- the pickup debuted in 2005. Its top year was 2007 at 8,262 sales.

The Equator is barely hanging on. The pickup debuted in 2008. Its best year was 2009 -- 2,221 sales. Sales are down 43 percent this year.

Which begs the question: If Hyundai offers a Ram-based pickup, would the truck be successful?

If history is any guide, probably not. It appears the public prefers the real deal.

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