The Hyundai Santa Cruz ute has been ruled out for Australia due to an expected minimal market demand and the investment cost of producing the commercial vehicle in right-hand drive.
Speaking with CarAdvice in Canberra this week, Hyundai Australia’s chief operating officer, Scott Grant, said the small lightweight ute is not suited to local requirements, despite Hyundai Australia having originally said "we have no doubt such a tough, good-looking Hyundai ute will be popular with Australians" when it was unveiled at the 2015 Detroit Autoshow.
“The Santa Cruz concept has been discussed a few times in Hyundai America and the latest information that I have is that the North American president has said that we have made a decision to introduce a commercial vehicle, however we haven’t released the decision,” Grant said.
It’s all but confirmed that the Santa Cruz ute has been given the go-ahead for left-hand-drive markets, but the development for right-hand drive has apparently been put on hold and Hyundai Australia sees little potential in any return from our market on the investment needed.
“That vehicle is in not in any way suited for Australia, and is therefore not even being considered for this market. [But] it’s important for us because as Hyundai moves further into commercial vehicles and development of a ute and so on, the knowledge and the intellectual property that will go with it and the learning and understanding will be more advanced than what it was five years ago," Grant said.
"I am sure we can leverage that into the future, and that’s why it's a sign for us that the company is getting serious about it and moving in that area.”
The Santa Cruz, which would introduce a lightweight lifestyle ute option to the Australian market, is just too “small and lightweight” for us, according to Grant, considering the popularity of larger utes here.
Asked if the Santa Cruz was available in right-hand drive, whether we would still take it, grant said:
“It’s 'chicken and egg', isn’t it? If we said look we will take it and they developed in right-hand drive, we would have to bring it in and see what would happen.
"But we don’t think it would work, we don’t think Australian consumers would go for it. So our message to the mother ship is, that kind of style and product is not suitable for our market. Our understanding is that no further work has been done for right-hand drive.”
Asked why Hyundai remains without a proper utility offering, Grant said the South Korean brand has been spending its resources in other areas.
“[Engineering a proper ute] seems bleedingly obvious, but I think it’s more that our organisation has been focused on strengthening its existing product range and focused on passenger vehicles on a global basis."
Do you think the Hyundai Santa Cruz would work for our market?