New Tasman confirmed for our market

Price and position crucial to success of Kia’s bakkie in SA

We can only speculate about how Kia plans to approach the introduction of the Tasman in Mzansi

24 April 2024 - 15:24
By Brenwin Naidu
The Kia Tasman will be coming to South Africa.
Image: Supplied The Kia Tasman will be coming to South Africa.

If the name of Kia’s new double cab makes you think of Australia, it's no coincidence. Meet the Tasman, previewed by the manufacturer in lively pre-production livery this week.  

With a name inspired by the Tasmanian island state off the continent’s south coast, it is purported to be “the most Australian Kia ever developed”.  

A month ago the manufacturer produced a short teaser about how the name was conceived, involving input from sporting heroes of the country.  

That’s all well and good, but South Africans will be right to wonder how the imminent South Korean pickup will fit into our market where the likes of the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max reign.

In capability, the Australian-influenced development augurs well. Our environments are not dissimilar in terrain, with punishing conditions from end to end, in addition to economies heavily reliant on agriculture, among other industries dependent on tough, sturdy workhorses.  

The development and release of a new product is a hugely capital-intensive undertaking for any manufacturer, but seemingly, Kia’s sums show there is a strong business case to pursue interests in light commercial vehicles.  

The Tasman’s birth has parallels with Volkswagen’s foray into the category more than a decade ago with the first-generation Amarok, which was well received but never became a significant volume seller in our country.

The subsequent iteration ended up being a joint venture with Ford, essentially a rebadged Ranger with different exterior and cabin executions.  

One wonders if Kia's parent company Hyundai will have a contender of its own based on shared ingredients.

We can only speculate about how Kia plans to approach the introduction of the Tasman in Mzansi.

Will they be going for significant volumes? That would be tricky, especially as the brand does not have local manufacturing operations to favour such a strategy. The top-selling bakkies in South Africa are all built here.  

European firm Stellantis is eyeing mass-market success with its Landtrek which is poised for local manufacture at a new facility in Gqeberha with production expected to begin in 2025. It seems plausible that Kia will adopt a more exclusive angle to its positioning of the Tasman here.  

Think lifestyle-orientated buyers with healthy disposable incomes rather than fleet-minded or small business audiences. The Tasman may be punted as an upmarket double cab option for families wanting a suitable daily driver that is also up to the task of handling weekend recreation.  

The teaser image revealed is of a Tasman in psychedelic camouflage but there are interesting clues to be inferred. Its flat-faced, upright front styling echoes flavours of the Jeep Gladiator.

Most prominent from the side is the hockey stick shape of the window profile as well as beefy fender flares, contributing to that pumped-up appearance everyone admires in a bakkie. 

It could be safe to say the un-camouflaged, production series specimen of the Tasman will not fade into the periphery from a visual standpoint. Kia is known for its strong stylistic efforts that are, in some cases, quite handsome.

There is a reason for the livery — and it does not involve magic mushrooms. It was conceived in collaboration with artist Richard Boyd-Dunlop hailing from Australia and New Zealand. The intention was to embody the adventurous spirit of the vehicle.  

“Influenced by the untamed beauty of Australia’s diverse landscapes the unique graphics visualise a journey of inspiration encountered while driving along the coast and across the outback,” according to Kia.

“The finish combines the fiery hues of the outback with commanding blues that pay homage to Australia’s influential surf culture.”  Perhaps Kia South Africa will use the Tasman as a canvas for some works that capture the magic of our country when it launches here. Maybe one painted by Rasta the artist?

Kia confirmed the model will be revealed in 2025. Key markets (aside from Australia) include Africa and the Middle East. And yes, it is coming to South Africa. 

Gary Scott, local CEO of the brand, said no confirmed date had yet been set, nor has anything been tabled with regards to pricing and specification. 

“We acknowledge that where we position the range will be important as we want to support our ambitions with the model while being respectful to the market,” said Christo Valentyn, GM of marketing for the brand.