Confirmed! Hyundai are building a ute ... but is it coming here?
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After teasing us for more than two years with their Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept, Hyundai have confirmed that a production version of the quirky-looking utility is in the works.
The news comes through Hyundai America Vice President Michael J. O'Brien, who confirmed the plans in an interview with Reuters. O'Brien said the decision is part of Hyundai's action plan to introduce more pick-ups and SUVs to the American market — both of these of course being popular segments in the US.
They're popular here, too. July 2017's sales data shows the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Triton, and Holden Colorado holding down the top four spots in the overall sales rankings. The Nissan Navara also scraped into the top 10.
It would therefore make sense for Hyundai to bring the Santa Cruz to New Zealand; a market who clearly love their utes and pick-ups. Sadly, O'Brien wouldn't delve further into the model's details, nor would he say when it was going to hit the market. Beyond the Santa Cruz, he also confirmed that a new Santa Fe is coming next year.
Speaking to Driven, Hyundai New Zealand General Manager Andy Sinclair made reference to speculation that such a vehicle could make it to our shores by 2020.
“With regard to the Santa Cruz concept, HMC have not released any detail regarding markets outside the USA,” he said. “Of course we would love a ute in the local market, and there is speculation that we may have one available in 2020. But perhaps more of a kiwi style ute than what the Santa Cruz represents.”
Speaking to press at last year's Busan motor show, Dr Woong-Chul Yang — Hyundai Motor Company's vice-chairman of Research and Development — was coy about both the chances of the Santa Cruz being produced, as well as the chances of it hitting right-hand drive markets like New Zealand.
“We would love to have a pick-up for the North American market but the conservative customers want domestic products,” he said at the time.
“Other [international manufacturers] have tried to sell pick-ups in America but have not been successful.”
The manufacturer could well have been spurred on by the successful launch of Mercedes-Benz's first ute — the X-Class. The German marque unveiled the production version of their ute just last month; their first foray into the sector if we skip over the various rear-lopped-off G Wagens they've produced over the years.