Bad news for Hyundai NZ, ute still a concept
While Hyundai New Zealand is keen to add a ute to its line-up, one of the company’s top executives has dismissed any plans to start producing the Santa Cruz concept pick-up truck.
First revealed at last year’s Detroit motor show, the single cab Santa Cruz concept was Hyundai’s bid at taking on Ford and General Motors in the North American pick-up market.
But at the Busan motor show, yesterday, Hyundai Motor Company’s vice-chairman of Research and Development, Dr Woong-Chul Yang revealed that for now the Santa Cruz would remain a concept.
Speaking to international media, including Driven, at a press conference at the motor show, Dr Yang was asked by the New Zealand media if the company planned to put the Santa Cruz into production.
He jokingly replied he wished that an American journalist was asking the question.
“We would love to have a pick-up for the North American market but the conservative customers want domestic products,” said Dr Yang.
“Other [international manufacturers] have tried to sell pick-ups in America but have not been successful.”
For the Santa Cruz to be a success for the Hyundai Motor Company, it would need a large left-hand drive market, with North America still the largest consumer of pick-ups in the world.
For Hyundai, the right-hand drive market of New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia would be too small to be a commercial success for the Korean company.
While the Santa Cruz may eventually be produced, Dr Yang “couldn’t say when”.
The Santa Cruz concept had a unibody design, compact footprint and a diesel engine.
Based on the Santa Fe platform, the single cab ‘trucklet’ (as are such ute’s nickname) was aimed at customers not wanting a large pick-up.
Hyundai/Kia chief designer Peter Schreyer oversaw the design of the Santa Cruz, with the concept’s short bed able to be extended plus a large hexagonal grille dominating the design.
For Hyundai NZ, having the Santa Cruz in its line up would help it take on the top three car companies – Toyota, Ford and Holden – that have utes in their lines that help them dominate new vehicle sales in New Zealand.