Hyundai’s small lifestyle-focused Santa Cruz concept is nearing a green light for production, according to reports out of the US.
Unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January, the Santa Cruz is pitched as the ideal ride for the “urban adventurer”, combining the dimensions of a small SUV with the utility of an open tub out the back.
And, if recent comments from Hyundai North America boss Dave Zuchowski are anything to go by, the Santa Cruz will soon enter as a first step into the hugely popular pickup market.
Speaking with US website The Detroit Bureau, Zuchowski said there is significant interest in the Californian-designed Santa Cruz at Hyundai’s Korean HQ.
“There is a very high probability we get the approval of the truck soon,” Zuchowski said.
But, while the motoring millenials of America may soon have another new option to consider, an Australian debut would seem unlikely.
For the Santa Cruz to get a local berth, a right-hand-drive production program must first be approved.
Although pickups are a major segment in the Australian market, the more car-like Santa Cruz would be unlikely to find enough business here to justify right-hand production.
The Santa Cruz’s best chance of an Australian launch lies in interest from the UK.
Zuchowski has previously said that the Santa Cruz could work well in the left-hand-drive mainland European market - “which is ahead of the game in terms of urbanisation” - but it remains to be seen if buyers in the UK will be as interested.
But, while the Santa Cruz may never appear on the menu for Australian buyers, a successful launch in the US could easily see Hyundai expand toward a larger and more capable pickup.
Hyundai’s assault on the ute market could still be sometime away however, with Hyundai R&D executive Park Byung-cheol telling Reuters in March that there remain “hurdles” to be overcome before the carmaker can bring such a model to market.
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