We’ve previously reported that Hyundai North American is seriously considering a truck-like utility vehicle based on the 2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz concept seen at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show in January. Now it seems Hyundai USA CEO David Zuchowski, a huge supporter of the Santa Cruz, expects to receive the green light for production from Hyundai’s main Korean headquarters by this November.

The trucklet will be based on a crossover platform underpinned by a unibody structure and a transverse-mounted powertrain with available AWD. Hyundai says the Santa Cruz wouldn’t be competing against the American midsized trucks, but rather vehicles like the current Honda Ridgeline.

What’s more, Hyundai is shifting a few of its production facilities from cars to crossovers, along with more factories being constructed globally. This will give Hyundai the room to build the new model without sacrificing production of its other products.

Reports are also suggesting Zuchowski is also pushing for a small, entry-level compact crossover aimed at the 2015 Nissan Juke, 2016 Mazda CX-3, 2015 Chevrolet Trax, and 2016 Honda HR-V. Zuchowski hints that the crossover will push the design envelope, saying “edgier styling will be really important in that segment.” The small crossover is expected for the 2017 model year.

As for the Santa Cruz mini-truck, if Hyundai’s Korean headquarters gives the go-ahead, it could enter production for the 2017 or 2018 model year. It would be marketed towards urbanites who lead active lifestyles who need the utility of a truck, but don’t need the size or towing capacity offered by modern American trucks.

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Why it matters

New players in the game always stir interest and the same goes for Hyundai’s funky little Santa Cruz. The neo-truck could reignite the unibody utility truck segment that went cold after Honda let its Honda Ridgeline die of old age. With a useful bed and a possible efficiency-minded diesel powerplant, the Santa Cruz could spark an entire category. Then again, the Ridgeline never really caught on that well and its 2016 or 2017 replacement is said to be more truck-like than the first generation Ridgeline.

It will be interesting to see if Hyundai actually gets the green light and if so, how the super light duty truck will impact the market.

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Source: CarAndDriver

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