Kia Motors America will be picking the brains of Chicagoans this week to determine if the company should build a pickup.
The Mojave concept, a mid-sized pickup based on the Sorento platform, was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show last week. The body-on-frame platform was stretched 20 inches.
The Mojave is big, similar in size to the 2004 Dodge Dakota pickup. It is 5.1 inches shorter than the Dakota but 4.4 inches wider. The Mojave's wheelbase is 129 inches, 2 inches shorter than the Dakota's.
The concept seats five and is powered by a 280-hp double-overhead-cam 24-valve 3.8-liter V-6.
At the show, Kia representatives will ask questions about the pickup's interior and exterior styling, horsepower and features.
The Mojave features a power-operated rear wall that slides forward into the passenger compartment after the rear window is lowered and the rear seats are folded down. The shift extends the cargo bed from 71 inches to 84 inches.
"Those are the kind of features we want to explore to see if there is any demand," said Kia Motors America CEO Peter Butterfield.
If the response in Chicago is favorable, he said, "We'll look at the volume opportunities, do the profitability forecasting, see what it would cost to support a facility to build this product, and then make a decision to move forward or not. There is no timetable when that decision will be made."
If a decision is made to build the pickup, the automaker will look for a plant in the United States, Canada or Mexico, Butterfield said.
He said no decision has been made on whether the plant would be run solely by Kia or shared with Hyundai, Kia's parent company.
Last year, Kia had 237,471 U.S. sales.
"We have most of the car segments covered. The opportunities for significant volume increases are on the truck segment," said Butterfield. Kia sells two light trucks, the Sorento SUV and the Sedona minivan.
Kia is expected to introduce the next-generation Sportage at the New York auto show in April. The Sportage is a unibody sport wagon that will go on sale this year.