Hyundai Says Santa Cruz Pickup Still Coming, but You'll Need to Be Patient
Remember that Santa Cruz Concept pickup that miraculously appeared at the 2015 North American International Auto Show? Well, according to Hyundai, it’s still earmarked for future production, but the brand has really dragged its feet on its development.
Despite a warm welcome from the automotive media, the Santa Cruz hit a major speed bump when former CEO Dave Zuchowski left Hyundai Motor America. At the time, Zuchowski was pushing hard for more SUVs and especially the pickup truck, but sliding domestic deliveries forced home office to oust him from his position. Tragically, Hyundai’s preponderance of cars is probably the largest factor contributing to lackluster U.S. sales — something Dave seemed to understand.
Hyundai continued its pursuit of SUVs and crossovers without him, but the pickup was lost in the mix. Originally planned for a 2018 release, development of the Santa Cruz stagnated. Now, the automaker says it intends to get things back on track.
“We love it,” Brian Smith, chief operating officer of Hyundai Motor America, told Motor Trend in a recent interview. “We talk about it a lot.”
It seems the management shakeup set back development quite a bit. Smith said the pickup probably won’t arrive until 2020 now. That’s a bummer for Hyundai, as rival automakers have begun dabbling in the modestly sized truck market. Mercedes-Benz has the X-Class, Ford brought back the Ranger, and Volkswagen is teasing the idea of an Atlas-based pickup.
Meanwhile, General Motors and most Japanese automakers already have a slice of the pie. Even Mitsubishi has said it might be a good idea to get a mid-sized truck back into North America, while BMW’s Australian arm is practically begging for a ute. Hyundai could have been an upstart, but now it looks like it’ll be another brand tagging along in a segment that’s regaining relevance.
When the Santa Cruz does come, Smith said it will have four-doors, five seats, and be based on the Tucson. It also won’t look like the concept vehicle from 2015. But it will be real, and that’s the important thing.
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It's so infuriating when automakers hedge on an amazing concept due to internal politics etc. GM botched the Fiero because at the time they needed it pitched as some commuter car instead of a cheap mid engine sports car it was meant to be. More recently, Toyota botched the CH-R by hobbling it with front wheel drive, no upgrade engine, and a crappy interior. Now Hyundai is doing the same with the Santa Cruz. Of course, Subaru has being doing that to us for years with amazing Impreza/WRX concepts that get totally ruined in production form. Hint to automakers: if you have an amazing idea (an ACTUAL amazing idea) PUT IT INTO PRODUCTION!! Don't chicken out and let the weasels in the accounting office or marketing department ruin it.
The vehicle doesn't sell the vehicle, the financing sells the vehicle. (In most cases - the B&B are a different group of cats.) Put this thing in the showroom with a few mini spotlights and a 199/month lease or an 84-month loan and the suckers will drive it home. "At Hyundai, your job is your credit!" Waiting around for well-informed buyers with good credit will make for a lot of laid-off salespeople. So I'm feeling a little cynical today - but that's the truth. If the salesman can shoehorn that butt into that seat, the unit gets moved. That's why so many Scions went to grandparents, and single mothers are driving new Chargers. Waiting for a truly matched pair just ain't reality. So as long as Hyundai puts this sparkly little warmed-over Subaru Baja under the shiny lights to attract the bugs, they will sell them, whether it's actually useful or not.