The Hyundai Santa Cruz ute concept shown at the Detroit motor show in January this year remains a “speculative product” that isn’t in the company’s mid-term Australian launch plans.
That’s the line from Hyundai Australia COO John Elsworth, who told us this week that any prospect of a much-needed utility vehicle of any stripe remained up in the air at best.
“To be honest with you we haven't even been asked to submit any of our requirements,” he said. “I’d say it's a really speculative product to be honest with you, certainly if the American team are able to get it up and running it’d more for their local market [anyway].”
As we reported from the US last month, Hyundai's North American subsidiary believes the case for Santa Cruz production is strong, for that market at least.
The Santa Cruz concept raised eyebrows when it appeared earlier this year, being a bold show car that looked to preview a car-like and sports-focused utility vehicle. Such a car would be an interesting new direction for the company.
The Korean car maker’s local arm has made no secret of its wish for more commercial vehicles. A proper Toyota HiLux rival remains priority number one, but a production Santa Cruz would still occupy a niche defined at present by the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon ute derivatives.
Getting more commercial vehicles into its ranks would in fact position Hyundai nicely to take the mantle as Australia’s top full importer, and potential number two brand, away from Mazda. Commercial vehicles are about 20 per cent of the total market.
There's another Hyundai commercial vehicle overseas — the new H350 large van. But that remains a left-hand-drive only proposition.
Read all about the Santa Cruz concept here.