Bakkies and Biltong
WHILE spending some time in the archives of The Crankhandle Club recently, I stumbled upon an image of strange-looking bakkie and SUV spin-offs from the 1970s. The accompanying story was fascinating; developed locally from the Beetle platform, these concepts were the work of Volkswagen South Africa. In a sense, then, they were the great-great-grandfathers of the Amarok, even though they never entered production. It is well known that the Amarok exists partly because VWSA had been loudly asking Wolfsburg for a very long time for a vehicle to compete with the Toyota Hilux and its ilk.
For ultimate volume potential and profi tability, a mass-market manufacturer has to play in the largest segments. In South Africa and many parts of the developing world, this includes bakkies. I know that South African Hyundai representatives have made it clear to its parent company that a bakkie would be a welcome new product development.
A recent announcement by Hyundai’s Lee In-cheol, vice-president of international sales, that the company is indeed investigating the bakkie market should therefore not be taken lightly. The company still has to decide whether it will build a large version with which to enter the American market (such as Honda with its Ridgeline), but this would make the vehicle unmarketable in the rest of the world. The alternative is a vehicle to battle the Amarok and Hilux. Considering the rise in popularity of double-cab bakkies in a declining European market (sales in Portugal and the UK are encouraging), as well as strong support in developing markets for double and single cabs, I’d venture the latter option would be better.
To bakkie-mad South Africa, this is very good news. As you’ll see in our massive group test this month, consumers in this market have never had such a variety of impressive vehicles from which to choose. The addition of a Hyundai (and potentially a Kia) into the mix will only be welcomed. Flip to page 48 to find out who rules the roost at the moment.
You’ll also notice that a true South African motorsport legend joined the CAR team to evaluate the current crop of leisure double cabs at the Land Rover Experience off-road track at Simonsig near Stellenbosch. Multiple champion Hannes Grobler was on hand to give his opinion. I last spent time with Hannes in the late ‘80s when, as a young motorsport enthusiast, I asked him for his autograph during a stopover in Moorreesburg as part of the Swartland Rally. A perfect example of why motorsport was so great back then, he not only gave me my treasured autograph – but also some biltong. Only in South Africa.