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and Matt Campbell

The Hyundai Santa Cruz ute concept is all but assured to go into production as Hyundai America pushes its parent company to speed up the vehicle’s development.

Speaking to CarAdvice at the 2015 New York auto show, Hyundai America CEO Dave Zuchowski admitted that not having a player in the pickup segment hurts Hyundai’s growth potential.

“[The Santa Cruz] is really important for us – one of the things that has affected us in the last three years is the dramatic shift from car to truck, but even within that it’s not even about pick-ups anymore – it’s really, the booming growth, has been in the crossover segment,” Zuchowski said.

“About 20 per cent of what we sell is crossover and the market sells about 56% trucks, there’s just a lot of business that we are not involved in.”

Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept

In Australia the light commercial segment (utes and vans) makes up around 20 per cent of yearly sales.

“We are getting into the growing part of the market, there’s more margin there.”

Asked if the Santa Cruz, which was shown at the Detroit auto show earlier this year, was a sure bet, Zuchowski admitted that the South Korean company had missed an opportunity to fast track the vehicle’s production earlier this year.

“The way our product development cycles works is you officially get product included in either February timing or November timing, so February timing was too close to the show itself, but we are trying to get it included for the product plan in November, which doesn’t mean we will wait till November as we are doing a lot of the development work and feasibility studies [now].”

He said the car’s surprise unveiling at Detroit was more about gauging consumer, media and dealer reaction before progressing further.

Hyundai Santa Cruz Interview CA

“It checked the boxes, it was all spectacular, they loved the vehicle. We took that information and took it back to the parent company and we’ve been working very closely with them.

“Our parent company is definitely interested in the vehicle, they understand the importance of the vehicle so we feel very good about it, but it’s not yet an approved product.”

Hyundai Australia has previously indicated that it would be very interested in the product when it goes into production. Based on the timeline projections it’s likely we will see a production form of the Santa Cruze in 2017 and depending on where it’s built, it may take even longer to get to Australia.

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