Hyundai expects green-light for Santa Cruz pickup

Hyundai expects green-light for Santa Cruz pickup

Hyundai Motor America is becoming more vocal in its optimism for the Santa Cruz pickup concept.

Chief executive Dave Zuchowski reportedly expects Hyundai’s Korean board to green-light production at the next meeting in November. In his opinion, the Santa Cruz should be fast-tracked even if other projects need to be delayed.

“There is a lot of interest from the parent company and a lot of engineering is done,” he said, as quoted by the Detroit Free Press.

The executive suggests the public’s reaction since the concept’s January debut has been positive beyond expectation, and the company has been punching numbers to make a business case.

The Honda Ridgeline is the closest unibody rival for the Santa Cruz, which is described as a crossover with a cargo bed. The idea is not without controversy and market risk, exemplified by Subaru’s quick retirement for the Baja. Other body-on-frame alternatives, such as the Chevrolet Avalanche and Ford Explorer Sport Trac, experienced longer production runs but were ultimately discontinued in recent years.

Presented as a utility vehicle for “urban adventurers,” the Santa Cruz concept features bold styling with tie-down cleats distributed on the wheel arches, roof and bed rails. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbo diesel engine, delivering 190 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels.

If Hyundai approves the project, the production version will presumably be toned down considerably and outfitted with a gasoline engine for the US market.

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