A top dog at Hyundai has confirmed the Santa Cruz – the pickup truck concept revealed a while back at the Detroit Motor Show – is nearing the production stage. The Hyundai Santa Cruz uses a monocoque design (as opposed to body-on-frame) and will be Hyundai’s first pickup truck.
Luc Doncerwolke, the company’s Chief Design Officer, said that the Santa Cruz completed the design stage of development over a year ago and will go into production ‘as soon as possible’. The vehicle is expected to hit US showrooms in 2021, with a Kia-badged models not too far behind, and was captured cold-weather testing in Lapland in February 2020.
The Santa Cruz is based on the Santa Fe SUV and, unusually, will employ a monocoque design (the only other pickup to do so is the SsangYong Musso). It’s expected to be much smaller than the traditional pickup and more akin to the half-tonners that are popular in South America, with Hyundai revealing they are not targeting traditional Ford Ranger or Toyota Hilux customers.
“Fact is, there’s huge demand for a more affordable, open-bed utility product,” explained Mike O’Brien, vice-president of product-planning.
“Not everybody’s hauling a gooseneck trailer with a head of cattle in it. Not everybody’s got a horse trailer. Not everybody’s hauling a thousand pounds of concrete. Some people just need the utility of an open bed.
“So we found out there’s this big market of people buying crossovers that it’s not their first choice. They’re active people, kayakers, rock climbing, hiking, mountain bikers… They hate the idea that they put their dirty gear in the back seat of the SUV where the child seat goes Monday morning.
“At the same time, they seek something that works in their urban lifestyle, that’s easier to park, that’s easy on fuel economy, and they want something with a sportier image.”
The Santa Cruz will be built in the US and, despite being based on the Santa Fe, it pickup will inherit its engine and transmission from the smaller Tuscon SUV (currently either a 1.6 or 2.0-litre petrol with either a 6 or 7-speed dual clutch automatic). Hyundai UK can ‘neither confirm or deny’ that the Santa Cruz will be coming to our showrooms, however.