After making its concept debut at January’s Detroit Motor Show, the Hyundai Santa Cruz has stirred a flurry of speculation: will it make it into production, or will it not?
Conceived as something of a lifestyle ute, the Santa Cruz would ditch the traditional ladder-frame chassis as found beneath workhorses like the Hilux and Triton.
Now the latest report from US publication Car & Driver indicates that president and CEO of Hyundai’s North American operations, Dave Zuchowski, has hinted that November will be when a production future for the Santa Cruz is decided.
Hyundai’s American operations view the Santa Cruz as one way of furthering its options in the crossover-mad North American market. By opting for a less heavy-duty platform, the Santa Cruz would occupy a market segment by itself, picking up where car-based models like the Subaru Baja left off.
Despite a shortage of firm information regarding possible final specifications, the Santa Cruz could forge new ground in the market if it does arrive.
Utilising component sets from Hyundai’s SUV range, the Santa Cruz may end up being a more city-friendly vehicle for those with a penchant for weekend adventures.
Hyundai Australia has indicated that a ute would be a welcome addition to its line-up, however a competitor aimed at one-tonne utes like the Toyota Hilux would be the preferred option.
Production of the Santa Cruz doesn’t assure an Australian arrival either, despite the market possibilities of a less tradie-focussed ute to take the place of Commodore and Falcon utes, once those locally built models come to an end.
With production most likely to occur in North America, to avoid the US market’s 25 percent import tariff on imported light trucks, a case for right hand drive production may hang on other markets - particularly the UK.
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