Hyundai North America design boss Chris Chapman (watch our interview with him here) told Australian media at the Detroit motor show that the Santa Cruz ute goes after an entirely different market to many light-commercial vehicles - one that Hyundai believes is mostly untapped - and that the concept was built with production feasibility in mind.
“If it’s overwhelmingly positive towards this,” Chapman said in regards to public perception, “we’ve done all our homework and this can be built extremely quickly.”
Hyundai went out of its way to not design just another pick-up truck, noting the segment is not only crowded but also declining globally (although it remains enormous in both North America and Australia).
“What I am mostly concerned about is actually that we do a normal pick-up truck. Anybody can kind of do that. But if we want to identity a new, emerging market and acknowledge these customers that we think we are pairing with then they are going to respond to this and purchase this thing not as workhorse towing thing but as their car, as their main driver's car.”
Hyundai claims it spent almost two years researching customer needs, particularly those currently buying compact SUVs such as the ix35, and sees a potential market for a lifestyle-type ute.
“What we wanted to do is express from the research the desire from these folks that you could park this thing easily in the city, you don’t need back-up cameras or scratching your head wondering if you can fit in a spot."
Although purely a concept for the moment, Chapman admits that Hyundai is open to changing the size of the ute to make the business case work.
“What is important is that if we can answer these tough questions and gauge more response from these kinds of shows and this kind of research, that will settle what dimension this thing turns into.
“We thought the configuration needed to be something new. It’s a new kind of take on an old concept for a new attitude. We just felt that it was really important for this thing to not be a truck, to be a unibody and not have an emphasis on towing and to not be something that compromised the image as well in how they wanted to be seen. It’s a very, very important factor."
Is there a place for a lifestyle-type ute such as the Hyundai Santa Cruz in our market? Let us know in the comments section below.
More on the Hyundai Santa Cruz ute concept: