A Kia executive from Australia says he’s not “allowed to comment” on the firm’s rumoured upcoming bakkie.

Speaking to motoring.com.au, Kia Australia product planning chief Roland Rivero said he was “under strict orders” from his chief operating officer not to comment on the project.

“Yes, there’s been words mentioned in the past about it,” he said.

“It’s still something that’s very strongly on our radar and something we’re negotiating with KMC [Kia Motors Corporation], but until such time as we’re allowed to comment on a global project like a [bakkie], we won’t. And at this stage, we’re not,” Rivero told the publication.

Hyundai and Kia have long been thought to be working on a ladder-frame pick-up range (not to be confused with Hyundai’s upcoming unibody Santa Cruz lifestyle double-cab model) to compete with the likes of the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger.

According to motoring.com.au, the bakkie would at least match its foes with a one-tonne payload and a 3 500 kg braked towing rating. Speculative powertrain options include the Korean firm’s 2,2-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel and a 3,0-litre straight-six turbodiesel.

In June 2020, Hyundai Australia’s chief operating officer likewise said the rumoured ladder-frame bakkie range was a “sensitive” topic for the Korean firm’s head office.