Kia raised eyebrows when it unveiled a topless Optima (pictured) at last November’s SEMA show. The concept generated an overwhelmingly positive response from the public and the press alike, but a spokesperson for the South Korean car maker recently suggested that enthusiasts shouldn’t expect to see a topless Kia land in the near future because there wouldn’t be much of a market for it.
“The pollution from China, which is only about [124 miles] away, is so bad that some days you wouldn’t want to drive with the roof off,” revealed the insider.
The source — who wished to stay anonymous — explained that sister company Hyundai considered building a convertible several times in recent years but the project has never been approved for production because ragtop sales are spectacularly low in South Korea due to the air pollution that drifts over from China. And while the companies have also toyed around with the idea of building a topless model for export markets such as the United States, all of the upcoming cars they’re currently developing have a fixed roof.
A convertible is off the table for the time being, but another inside source told Australian website Motoring that Kia will likely launch its first-ever pickup truck before the end of the decade.
“You can guarantee that if Hyundai builds the Santa Cruz, we will have our own [version]. We have observed how popular the utility is for many different buyers, and a Kia model would also be very popular, I think,” explained the insider.
Kia’s yet-unnamed truck will share a vast majority of its mechanical components with the production version of the Santa Cruz, but it will wear a brand-specific design. How Kia and Hyundai will differentiate the two models to avoid cannibalization is unclear at this point. The Santa Cruz is expected to receive the green light for production shortly, so we’ll learn more about Kia’s version of the truck in the near future.