It's happening! Hyundai to start making its first ute in 2021
Search Driven for Hyundai for sale
Who would've thought five, 10 years ago that one of the most discussed concept vehicles of the decade would be a Hyundai ute. A Hyundai, ute.
And yet here we are, a year out from the end of the decade, and news of Hyundai's announcement that production of its first ute — based off the Santa Cruz concept from a few years ago — will commence in 2021.
This is the first official public green light from Hyundai on the project, following little remarks here and there that it was on the cards. Hyundai are taking it seriously too. They've confirmed that an injection of over $600million has been made at the North American production plant just to accommodate the Santa Cruz ute.
“Santa Cruz is for those who want all the traditional attributes of a compact utility vehicle, but need the day-to-day versatility of an open bed. It’s the crossover that creates a whole new segment that successfully combines capability and utility to meet the unspoken needs of a new generation of buyers, especially Millennials,” said Hyundai's press release.
“The plant will require a US$410million [$640million] expansion to support the addition of the vehicle. This includes additional space in the stamping, welding and parts processing areas of the manufacturing complex. Direct employment will increase by 200 jobs and local suppliers and logistics companies who support HMMA are projected to employ an additional 1,000 people in Montgomery and the River Region.”
While Hyundai hasn't confirmed the pick-up just yet on either side of the Tasman, it's been noted that Hyundai Australia is studying the business case for bringing a ute into the line-up as well as assisting with local input.
Whether that's the funky, snubby Santa Cruz or another yet-to-be-showcased ute more in keeping with the current double-cab line-up offered in Australasia has yet to be detailed.
That makes for an interesting point. The Santa Cruz concept was based on the Tucson SUV. If such a vehicle were to land on our shores, it would be the only ute offered locally not built on a traditional ladder chassis. The last of those to be offered here was the Holden VF ute (shout-out too to the mighty Proton Jumbuck).
It's been reported that the Hyundai ute that lands in Australasia is going to be built on a ladder chassis, but it's worth mentioning that making a unibody-based ute to challenge the double-cab market isn't without precedence. Honda does it in the US with the North American Ridgeline, which comes in all-wheel drive and is powered by a 3.5-litre V6.
“If we are going to bring a ute out it better be a ute. [...] It needs to be functional, that’s the important part isn’t it?” said Hyundai Australia CEO John Kett earlier this year.
"We’ve gone down that pathway and the guys are working towards it. We just have to make sure when it arrives it’s a bloody ute.”