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Hyundai Santa Cruz ute gets 2020 launch date

Hyundai's Santa Cruz ute gets production green light

Hyundai's Santa Cruz ute concept has been green-lit for production, with company executives confirming a circa-2020 on-sale date in the USA.

It's been quite the gestation period, with the Santa Cruz first breaking cover at the Detroit Motor Show in 2015, billed at the time as a "design exercise".

But the brand's car-based and genre-bending pickup will now make its official debut early in the new decade, with company executives telling The Detroit Bureau they were now locking in the final details.

“We just had a meeting to look at the design,” said Hyundai Motor America’s CEO, Kyung Soo “Ken” Lee. "(The plan is to) launch it in the US market in 2020."

The Santa Cruz, which is based on the Tucson, is being pitched as an alternative to an SUV, and Hyundai is targeting millennial buyers aged under 30. It makes up for its fairly diminutive size and cargo area with a tailgate extension that adds to the tray space, while the "hidden" rear doors - in concept form, at least - were hinged at the rear.

But while the Santa Cruz is now locked in for a USA debut, it's been comprehensively ruled out for Australia, with Hyundai’s local COO, Scott Grant, telling CarsGuide last year; "I can give you a quick answer: there is no plan for Australia for the Santa Cruz ute."

But hope is not lost for a Hyundai ute Down Under. The company's wish for a genuine HiLux rival is about to be granted, with "action" being taken on a true light-commercial vehicle for Australia.

“We’ve been taking about it for a number of years now, and HMC (Hyundai Motor Corporation) has been listening, but not necessarily taking a lot of action due to priorities in other markets and other developments and so forth,” Mr Grant said.

"About 12 to 18 months ago, HMC began studying about developing a light commercial vehicle for our part of the market, as well as for what North America likes. And you’ve seen the developments in North America (the Santa Cruz).

"Our market program is still in development. We’re confident of having something on the other side of 2020. But there’s no official launch plan at this moment."

Would you like to see the Santa Cruz make it to Australia? Or would you prefer a genuine workhorse? Tell us in the comments below.