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Hyundai America goes into Cruz mode

In development: The Hyundai pick-up will be a separate development from production version of the SUV-based Santa Cruz concept (left).

US to get Hyundai crossover truck, but Australia holds out for proper one-tonner

24 Aug 2017

HYUNDAI Motor America has given the green light to a production version of the Santa Cruz concept compact pick-up shown at the 2015 Detroit motor show, but its Australian counterpart has eyes only for a larger one-tonne ute that is under study at the company’s research and development centre in South Korea.

No timing or details have been announced for the American ute, beyond the fact that it will be a car-based “crossover truck” designed to attract younger buyers wanting a pick-up with SUV qualities.

Hyundai Motor Corporation Australia (HMCA) says it has no plans for the vehicle which has been conceived by Hyundai’s American team for the North American market.

HMCA public relations general manager Bill Thomas told GoAuto that the unnamed vehicle was “not something we are likely to take”.

He said it was not yet clear if the ute would be built in right-hand drive anyway.

“It’s more of a lifestyle vehicle, whereas we would prefer a one-tonner for Australia,” he said. “We can’t say that it (Santa Cruz) would never come here, but it is not something that we are seriously looking at.”

Fundamentally, the Santa Cruz-style compact pick-up is seen as having limited appeal in Australia where rugged body-on-frame one-tonners rule the roost.

HMCA has been asking for a dual-cab ute to pitch against the likes of the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger for years, so far without joy.

Without it, the South Korean brand has a critical hole in its product line-up, as utes comprise 16 per cent of Australian vehicle sales.

As GoAuto reported in June, the one-tonne might be finally moving, with Hyundai assessing a one-tonne pick-up development program and looking at where it would be built, should it get the go-ahead.

Thailand is the world production centre for such vehicles, and producing a ute there would give Hyundai a much-needed foothold in south-east Asia where Japanese companies dominate.

While the Santa Cruz concept could be described as a 2+3 ute, with two full-sized seats up the front and rudimentary seating for three in the back.

Access is provided by four doors – two normal-sized doors for the front seats and two smaller rear-opening doors for back-seat access.

The concept was said to be fitted with a 142kW/407Nm version of Hyundai’s turbo-diesel engine.

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