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Hyundai Santa Cruz ute at least three years away

The dual cab Tucson-based ute could hit production in 2021, although chances of an Australian arrival are slim.
Tom White
Journalist
CarsGuide

30 Oct 2018 • 5 min read

Hyundai’s CEO has revealed further details related to the brand’s upcoming Santa Cruz ute, including a more accurate window for launch timing.

However, the Tucson-based four-door ‘pick-up truck’ is likely to be built in America, reducing the chances of a right-hand drive version, much like the Kia Telluride SUV.

In an interview with US industry publication Automotive News, Hyundai’s CEO, Wonhee Lee, said the company is currently focused on two key projects targeting the American market. One is a fully-electric SUV, and the other is a production version of the Santa Cruz.

While the Santa Cruz was shown in concept form as far back as 2015, the pick-up still awaits the green light from Hyundai’s Seoul headquarters. Lee told Automotive News that once that green light was lit, “[the Santa Cruz] would take about 32 months to put into production.”

Much like the Honda Ridgeline, the Santa Cruz could end up left-hand drive only. Much like the Honda Ridgeline, the Santa Cruz could end up left-hand drive only.

The Santa Cruz will almost certainly share a platform with the next-generation Hyundai Tucson, set to arrive for the Korean domestic market in 2020, although Lee said production of a ute version would ideally be at the brand’s plant in Montgomery, Alabama which currently builds left-hand drive versions of the Santa Fe.

Seemingly a good fit for Australia, Hyundai hopes the non-ladder chassis Santa Cruz will appeal to the not-so-well-served small end of the pick-up market in the US (the brand is not keen to challenge established badges like Ford’s F150). But, there's a good chance it will become a US-market special much like the Honda Ridgeline.

While the Santa Cruz is a long-shot for Australia for the time being, the soft-ute segment could be filled by the Brazil-built Renault Duster Oroch (also a non-ladder chassis vehicle) which Renault is currently considering for our market in a sub $30k bracket.

If a non-ladder chassis ute still appeals to you, Renault are studying a business case for the Dacia-derived Duster Oroch in the Australian market. If a non-ladder chassis ute still appeals to you, Renault are studying a business case for the Dacia-derived Duster Oroch in the Australian market.

Meanwhile, Hyundai Australia is already on the record, recently telling CarsGuide the brand is studying the development of a proper light-commercial vehicle (read, ladder chassis) for our market, although priorities in other markets like the US had taken precedence for the time being.

Do you think a Hyundai ute in any capacity would be a good fit for the Australian market? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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