It would introduce a new smaller pickup segment for the US market

Hyundai showed off a very promising Santa Cruz compact pickup concept at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, but it never materialized into a production vehicle. Well, that could be about to change according to a recent report that says the concept could shift into production after all.

Hyundai is Reconsidering a Pickup Based on the Santa Cruz Concept, But We're Skeptical High Resolution Exterior
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Wonhee Lee, the CEO of Hyundai, announced that the company was working on two projects right now, one of which is a battery-powered SUV, while the other is a compact pickup inspired by the aforementioned Santa Cruz study. He did, however, note that neither of these two projects has been given the full go-ahead for production, so we too are a bit skeptical that either project will materialize.

The pickup, which the Hyundai boss called a “semi-pickup,” is apparently still quite early in its research and development stage, and it would take another 32 months to see it reach production.

If it is going to become a series model, it is very likely it will share its underpinnings with next-gen Tucson crossover, a model set arrive on the local South Korean market in 2020.

One year later, the pickup would arrive too, but the company isn’t experienced in making pickups, and it’s unsure where exactly it would fit in the pickup segment, particularly in the U.S. Wonhee Lee said "It’s a new segment, so we don’t have any data to give us a kind of confidence. But we believe we can create a new segment for pickup trucks in the U.S. market.”

Hyundai is Reconsidering a Pickup Based on the Santa Cruz Concept, But We're Skeptical High Resolution Exterior
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If it were to see production and be aimed at North American buyers, it would have to also be built somewhere in the U.S., probably at the group’s facility in Montgomery, Alabama. However, the plant would need massive investment in retooling in order to accommodate another model and boost its annual output of 390,000 vehicles (currently Elantras, Sonatas, and Santa Fes). It wouldn’t arrive any earlier than 2021.

The advantages of making a pickup out of car-like crossover underpinnings would be keeping the weight down, ensuring excellent on-road handling, as well as good efficiency.

And since it would be related to the compact Tucson, it really wouldn’t have many similar size rivals. Even smaller pickups, like the Ford Ranger, would be quite a bit larger than it, so it would essentially have the market segment to itself.

Hyundai is Reconsidering a Pickup Based on the Santa Cruz Concept, But We're Skeptical High Resolution Exterior
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We’re really hoping that if it does reach production, its design won’t differ too much from that of the Santa Cruz concept which raised a few eyebrows at its unveiling. The 2015 study has an aggressive front end, wide, muscular haunches, and it looks like a car was turned into a pickup and not the other way around. Hyundai’s design language has evolved since then, and it will evolve further until the proposed 2021 release date, but it could still keep a lot of the concept’s design ideas.

Further reading

Hyundai is Reconsidering a Pickup Based on the Santa Cruz Concept, But We're Skeptical Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept.

Source: Automotive News

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