By on September 22, 2017

2017 Hyundai H100 Korea pickup - Image: Hyundai“We’ve been talking about it for a number of years now,” Hyundai Australia’s chief operating officer, Scott Grant, said at the Genesis G70 global reveal.

No, he’s not talking about the G70, or any Genesis for that matter. He’s not talking about the H-100 pictured above. He’s not talking about the Tucson-based Hyundai Santa Cruz that finally seems destined for production after years of back-and-forth indecision.

Hyundai is now considering a true pickup truck. “We’re confident of having something on the other side of 2020,” Grant says.

Hyundai’s coming for your pickup truck market share, Nissan.

Of course, “the other side of 2020,” is not the most specific of timelines, but it’s one borne out of an otherwise predictable schedule that’s prioritizing other projects.

“About 12 months, 18 months ago, we began a study about developing a light commercial vehicle for our part of the market, as well as for what North America likes,” Hyundai Australia’s COO tells Motoring. Without KDM targeting or the global intentions of, say, the Hyundai Elantra, a HiLux/Tacoma-fighting pickup truck from Hyundai is bound to remain perpetually on the backburner.2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept - Image: HyundaiIndeed, while Grant told Australian journalists that the Aussie subsidiary had been discussing such a project “for a number of years,” he also specified that the HQ in Seoul “has been listening, typically, but not necessarily taking a lot of action.”

That’s changed, Grant contends. While there’s no real timeline, the process of developing a proper pickup truck now involves “a far more vigorous study program in HMC [Hyundai Motor Corporation] than previously.”

“They were listening but not acting,” says Hyundai Australia’s COO. “Now they’re acting.”

In Australia, the Santa Cruz Concept isn’t believed to be capable of meeting the rugged needs of vehicles that top the sales charts. The Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger rank as Australia’s No.1 and No.2 best-selling vehicles, respectively, and in August claimed 8 percent market share, combined.

Stateside, more than eight out of every ten pickup trucks sold are Detroit nameplates, leaving little space for yet another interloper from a non-traditional pickup truck builder.

Of course, there was a time, not that long ago in the grand history of the automobile, when Hyundai owned no slice of America’s passenger car market, either.

[Image Hyundai]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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57 Comments on “A Proper Pickup Truck, Not Just a Santa Cruz, Is Being Considered For Production at Hyundai...”


  • avatar
    APaGttH

    If Hyundai develops its own 1/2 ton pickup truck in either midsize or full-size configuration, FCA’s reason to be bought by anyone outside of the Chinese goes up in smoke.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Seems Hyundai would be better off to re-badge a full size pickup truck from another manufacturer. I wonder if FCA would like an arrangement like this?

    It seems to start from scratch and to try going up against Ford, RAM, and GM is futile-at best. Nissan has never been successful in the FULL SIZE truck market. Even Toyota and the Tundra has had just meager results-comparatively speaking.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    1. Buy Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram from Sergio.

    2. Euthanize everything but Jeep and Ram.

    3. Profit.

    • 0 avatar
      mmreeses

      #2 that’s the sticky point stopping #3 from happening.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        So minivans and the LX cars aren’t profitable? I find that very hard to believe.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          The LX cars are on the same road as the Panther – eventually safety regulations will force a stop to production.

          Is the Pacifica so head and shoulders above the Sedona that it would be worth keeping Chrysler around?

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I think so (re: Pacifica). They would be foolish to dump it and hope the Sedona can capture the market segment that it and the Grand Caravan would leave behind.

            When subtracting discontinued models like the Mazda5 and the Town & Country, the Sedona is, by far, the worst selling vehicle in the segment. It sold a little under 1700 units in August, while the Pacifica sold around 7,600. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

            If the merger took place, there is no reason replacements for the LX cars couldn’t be based on Hyundai’s RWD platforms. The Dodge Charger is the segment’s best seller, admittedly a declining segment, but it is what it is.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Only real assets are Jeep and Ram.

            Could move the Pacifica to the Ram brand and maybe worth keeping the Charger and Challenger alive as “specialty vehicles” while doing away with the Dodge brand.

            But to acquire Jeep and Ram, Hyundai would be taking on a lot of legacy costs with FCA.

          • 0 avatar
            Prove Your Humanity 2+9=?

            American brands that used to be huge have been eliminated: Plymouth, AMC, Oldsmobile, Saturn, et cetera. Eliminating Chrysler and Dodge is simply choosing to give up market share and chunks of your business. It would be better to compete by producing good products and having dealerships spread out evenly, according to population distribution. The Voyager/Caravan/Town & Country is a massively successful vehicle. Replacing it with just the Chrysler Pacifica is like replacing every burger at McDonald’s with a Quarter Pounder.
            Consolidating brands and shrinking the business is not the road to success. Maybe it’s just a symptom of mismanagement and uncompetitive products
            Selling FCA to Hyundai would giving up. Bloody lunacy.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Never mind safety regulations. The entire segment, fullsize, RWD sedans is a dead segment walking.

            If you’re an automaker, how long are you going to keep investing.

            Hyundai doesn’t need LX for RWD technology, they have their own hulking rear-drivers built on a far more updated platform over at Genesis.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          I said keep the Pacifica, build a BOF suv off the Ram, add the Genesis and Equus to the mix along with a premiumish fwd car based on whatever and a couple of leather lined CUVs based on Hyundai platforms and park them under the roof of your Chrysler dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      That is a HUGE price to pay for RAM and Jeep. HUGE.

      I 100% agree that basically, the only thing FCA has of interest to any automaker is Jeep, and depending on the maker, maybe RAM. The rest, forget it outside of the patent portfolio and V8 technology.

      Hyundai/Kia is the last automaker on the planet where buying FCA remotely makes sense. Chrysler could use some of Hyundai’s technology, and Hyundai doesn’t have a minivan (Kia does)

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        What impending safety regulation are going to make the LX cars obsolete? The Panthers were out due to the roll over requirement that the BOF cars’ bodies can’t handle without massive reinvestment, and the St Thomas plant was utterly worn out. The LX cars are structurally extremely safe cars. The small overlap issue can be resolved with reinforcing the fender ala Geneis, I don’t see the parallel.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          What extended the life of Panthers was their Hecho en Canada status which gave them “import” status including mostly “offshore” parts, which qualified them for a “loophole” within CAFE rules by which their “gas guzzling” ways were lumped together (averaged mpg) with compact/subcompact Ford import cars, otherwise Panthers would’ve gone extinct much sooner.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          It isn’t safety regulations. There is no market left for RWD fullsizers – the market for fullsize sedans is circling the drain period.

          If we look at the lens of Hyundai buying FCA, Hyundai has a modern RWD platform they developed and refined for the near luxury and luxury segment. They don’t need the outdated LX platform.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Hyundai does have a minivan.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Not in North America.

          Remember, the discussion is on Hyundai buying FCA.

          Jeep – yes makes sense
          RAM – yes makes sense in North America
          Pacifica – kind of makes sense

          The rest goes in the trash can.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Lol, yet another suggestion I put out there the other day in that Hyundai article about slumping sales.

    Are we going to have an article tomorrow about Hyundai’s van coming to North America? Lol that was the remaining suggestion I had. I figure they could expand their Alabama plant to build it and the pickup.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Which should be reversed in the US with the additional crossovers, the Santa Cruz, etc.

      Aside from China (which has political involved), Hyundai/Kia sales are rising in Europe, Mexico, India, Australia, the Middle East.

      Don’t need FCA for any of those markets (tho Jeep has potential for growth).

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Hyundai will not build a pickup in the US for many years.

      It needs to have the market share first to justify the investment.

      50k, 100k in pickup sales a year. The chicken tax is the issue, unless a trade deal is struck.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @BAFO – Why would it be an import truck when Hyundai is great a building cars in the US, some with the same platform?

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          At this point badge engineer a Tundra or Titan…both of those lines surely have excess capacity.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Why not remove the chicken tax and import the real deal?

            You rant and rave about US pickup truck superiority, so what competition can Hyundai offer?

            You can’t continually argue about the “superiorority” of something, then blatantly disregard all the protection offered.

            A free pickup market in the US would change the landscape. Not over night.

            This scares the big 3. There protected cash cows would be threatened along with the US automotive industry …… unless it becomes more competitive.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            “Why not remove the chicken tax…?”

            @BAFO – It’s political and follow the money. Ford, GM and Fiat have more to gain from its removal than anyone else. Use your head…

            Think about “global” Ford, GM and Fiat pickups and vans.

            Think about how much they’re paying or would have to pay to sell them in the US, thanks to the chicken tax.

            Think about how very little a Hyundai pickup, or Mahindra, Proton, etc, would actually “compete” or interfere with fullsize GM, Ford, Ram sales.

            Think about who’s mostly in the direct line of fire, of potential global imported pickups. Yep Toyota, Nissan, and Honda “midsize” pickups and suvs/cuvs, but also most vehicles from Mazda, Subaru, Mitsu, Hyundai, Kia, VW and others.

            Think about who’s the real winners and losers, when it comes to the chicken tax.

            But mostly the chicken tax still exists to counter the European “chicken tax” of 22.5% duty on imported pickups, aimed squarely at the US. Or did you “think” Europeans consumers don’t want imported US pickups???

            Damn you’re confused! And what’s the “real deal” not imported?

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    Good. The more competition the better.

  • avatar
    stuki

    What’s wrong with the H-100?

  • avatar
    ant

    It seems to me, that there is room for a hybrid pick up truck.

    Not some weak thing that gets good gas mileage, but something that is just as capable as a silverado/150, but in ADDITION, could be used as a generator for a house/work project/whatever. Also, it should have plug in capabilities, even if the electric energy is just enough to power the truck for 5-10 miles.

    Toyota should build it.

    • 0 avatar
      SlowMyke

      Why wouldn’t people just but a Sierra/f150/ram and a generator at that point? To keep the class-competitive capability and only add 5-10 miles of electric use is not worth the cost it would add to the truck. Aside from that, didn’t GM/Chevy give the mild hybrid truck thing a go for a couple years already? Those didn’t stick around.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I got to ride in the Kia version of that tadpole looking Hyundai trucklet in the top photo, a Kia K2700 4wd. Gnarly pizza cutter mud terrain tires, stick shift, diesel. It was awesome clattering up into the Costa Rican jungle in the bed of it.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      gte,
      Those trucks are based on an early 80s design from Mazda. The Mazda E Series.

      They were transferred to Kia when Ford still had a 25% stake in Mazda. They are the size of a midsize pickup with a 10×6 flatbed in single cab and can carry around 4 000lbs.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “developing a proper pickup truck”

    That rules out a Tuscan based trucklet.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Give Isuzu a call. Isuzu can supply a midsize pickup immediately.
    https://www.isuzu.co.uk/arctictrucksat35

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Well, that’s enough to convince me that any plans for the Santa Cruz are dead.
    You read it here first.
    Prove me wrong Hyundai.

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    One word why Asians can’t build a successful FULL SIZE US truck. Buried in specifications is the lack of PAYLOAD. None make a 8 lug wheel and one cannot stop giggling looking at their leaf springs. Build a bullet proof fleet truck and work up from there.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      The Asians can build full size pickups as good as or better than the US.

      The problem is the market is tiny to justify production.

      Plus a global pretty much can do what a full size can nowadays.

      HDs can’t be competitive either as there are alternatives.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        Wait…the US full-sized pickup market is tiny? Did I read that correctly? Man, pass the dutchie.

        https://www.google.com/amp/www.foxnews.com/auto/2017/08/17/ford-f-series-is-best-selling-vehicle-in-world.amp.html

        Let me sum that up for you, even with 95 percent of it’s sales coming in North America, the F series is the best selling vehicle IN THE WORLD! The GM full-size trucks aren’t far behind nor is the RAM. That hardly seems like a tiny market. Just because Toyota and Nissan sell in tiny numbers comparitively does not mean the market is small, they have just yet to crack what is in actuality a massive market.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        L’il Al,
        It seems you should re read the comment.

        Hint: Global fullsize production.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        L’il Al,
        Also, how will the Asians import a pickup, fullsize or midsize?

        Remember the chicken tax.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The US is not the future of pickups. This comment is targeted at the US based comments.

    This opinion of mine is based on a couple of significant facts.
    1. The US has little involvement in global pickup design and little to none in global pickup manufacture.

    2. The global pickup market is exploding, again making the US influence less significant.

    3. The US pickup market is shielded from off shore competition, again reducing the US’es ability to effectively be competitive in a global setting.

    So, this alone illustrates the US has no room or more honestly has shut out a Hyundai/Kia made pickup reaching your shores.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      More people buy an F series than any other vehicle built in the world. Yeah though, tiny market.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Li’l Al,
        The F Series by the very nature of the US system of controls, import tariffs and protection has made it the biggest seller.

        The US doesn’t have the quantities of brands available, it relies on protectionism to reduce options so the few profit and artificially enhance volume by brand and model.

        If this wasn’t the case the US pickup market would reflect the global market more.

        Whereas countries like Australia with freer economies with less controls can afford to offer a larger variety of product to the consumer. We don’t need to maintain artificial production.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      “The US pickup market is shielded…”

      @BAFO – All through the early/mid ’80s Mini-Truck explosion/fad, global (Japanese) import pickup were here and “competing” against fullsize pickups.

      How did this happen with the chicken tax fully implemented and “shielding” back then too?

      But guess what… Fullsize pickup sales never slipped, even with millions of import pickups hitting our shores in that era. Yes as fast as they could get them off the boat.

      There’s still at least a million import pickups on US roads from the those years.

      So what do US fullsize pickups, including the Titan and Tundra, have to fear from a few niche scragglers hitting our shores? I’ll tell you who really has to fear them, that’s brands like Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, Mazda, VW, to name a few.

      I’m not denying there’s a small hurdle there for import pickups, but what does that have to do with US “fullsize” pickups including the Titan and Tundra??

      Never mind 3/4 tons to medium duty pickups, which are a huge part of the fullsize market.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    There are other barriers besides the Chicken Tax. Barriers such as fuel standards that penalize smaller trucks putting them in a category closer to cars. There are also safety standards that make vehicles much heavier. Much harder to make a true compact truck. As for producing them in Mexico that would have not been a barrier up until the election of Trump and the possible changes in NAFTA which could possible put a large tariff on goods coming from Mexico. If and when the Santa Cruz comes to the US there are no true compact trucks. Also there is a change in trucks themselves over the years with the popularity of crew cabs which have become more of a family vehicle and less commercial. Crew cab pickups, suvs, and crossovers are replacing sedans for most families.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It seemed crazy a few year ago but crew cab 4X4s, mid luxury, have become “the new normal”. Around half of all new pickups are sold as these or higher trim levels. So what do you think that does to “base” 2wd pickup’s “resale” value, especially regular cabs?

      Not offering a 4 door, 4 seat minimum “truck” is the biggest “trade barrier” a 2 seater would face. But upgrading to a “crew cab” plus a somewhat usable bed totally defeats the “purpose”. Then it’s a Subaru BAJA no one wanted. Or a Ridgeline Honda can barely give away.

      Rock/…/Hardplace

      Fuel economy standards unfairly target smaller and midsize pickups, but “in theory” their fuel use should be dramatically better than fullsize pickups, not equal too. That’s not necessarily the fault of policy makers.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If you add weight to a vehicle and a tall boxy profile it will get less mpgs. That is the problem when you add two extra doors and safety equipment. There are no true compact trucks offered by the manufacturers just as there are no true mini-vans (mini-vans in name only but not mini in size).

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    We don’t need any more “proper” pickups. We need some Rancheros and El Caminos. Ford did it first, using the compact Falcon platform, then GM made the El Camino from its mid-size Malibu platform. The modern equivalent would be a Focus-based Ranchero and a Cruze-based El Camino.

    Landscapers, small time haulers, and home gardeners need a replacement for their Rangers, and married men need the upscale models to avoid having to take the kids and mother-in-law to the hardware store with them. That’s a big market that wouldn’t impact the full size pickup market.

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