With the Hyundai Santa Cruz ute all but assured for production, the South Korean manufacturer is keen to emphasise the vehicle will not be a traditional pick-up.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the 2015 New York auto show, the CEO of Hyundai America, Dave Zuchowski, said the aim of the Santa Cruz is to enter a new and untapped segment.
“It’s that sweet spot which offers the comfort of a crossover and the functionality and versatility of a pickup bed,” Zuchowski said.
The Santa Cruz will be in a segment that has been previously occupied by the likes of the Subaru Brumby and Proton Jumbuck – and the Subaru Outback-based Baja dual-cab model which was sold in the US from 2002-2006. Holden also did a dual-cab Commodore ute, the Crewman, which followed a similar path.
Zuchowski said the brand plans to bring a more lifestyle-orientated approach to the long-abandoned segment.
“It’s got some really creative technology where you can expand and contract the bed and we think that if you make a mistake and say that GM has now come in with a mid-sized pickup truck and maybe this is a compact pickup truck… it is really not a pickup truck, we expect different people to shop for this vehicle, we think there is an emerging segment there that is so far untapped.”
Evidently what it won’t be is an alternative to the soon-to-be-extinct locally produced Ford Falcon and Holden Ute.
“It’s really important on Santa Cruz to recognise what we are and what we aren’t. The Santa Cruz is not about payload, it’s not about ground clearance, it’s not about towing capacity or being on a job site and having sheet-rock in the back of the vehicle. It’s not a pick-up truck.”
The idea of a lifestyle-orientated vehicle with a tray may just work in our ute-loving nation, and Hyundai Australia has already confirmed it will take the vehicle when it becomes available.