But Hyundai execs knew it was a dangerous section and mentioned the Santa Cruz was one in all the most-researched autos that they had ever created. They believed there was a marketplace for the truck, regardless that success had eluded different automakers.
Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept
Dave Zuchowski, the then-CEO of Hyundai Motor North America, mentioned the automaker was utilizing the present to gauge response. The response was overwhelmingly optimistic and inside days, the early verdict was “go for it,” particularly as Hyundai’s lineup was principally vehicles and it wanted SUVs and a truck to higher match its product portfolio with client demand. Engineering work continued and a marketing strategy was developed to discuss to the board in Korea for approval.
An exuberant Zuchowski mentioned a choice to greenlight was doable when the board met in November 2015 for its subsequent annual product evaluate. From there, it could take 4 years or much less for the truck to attain manufacturing. Hyundai might additionally justify constructing a plant in the United States to produce the Tucson, in addition to the Santa Cruz.
Alas, issues did not precisely go to plan, as the gestation interval finally lasted six years. Even the African elephant can get the birthing carried out in slightly below two years.
Zuchowski pushed onerous for the little pickup, as he was satisfied it could promote effectively. In 2016, he instructed MotorDevelopment the choice was made to add the Santa Cruz to the lineup in 2018 as a 2019 mannequin. It would share a platform with the new 2016 Hyundai Tucson compact SUV and the design was very shut to being locked in. Projected gross sales have been 50,000—70,000 a 12 months, which was sufficient to make a $25,000 truck viable. But the announcement was by no means made and the truck misplaced its champion when Zuchowski was ousted in December 2016.
Then, Hyundai’s former chief working officer Brian Smith instructed us it could be in showrooms in 2020. Given the occasions of 2020, although, lacking that deadline is comprehensible.
Santa Cruz-ing for a Redesign
The time it took the Santa Cruz to go from getting the inexperienced gentle to reaching manufacturing was so lengthy that the design group had to return to the drafting board. SangYup Lee, head of the Hyundai Global Design Center, mentioned the look had to evolve to higher match with Hyundai’s most up-to-date fashions, beginning with the present Sonata. The Santa Cruz wanted to look extra distinctive. It would nonetheless experience on the similar platform as the Tucson, although.
Another snag has at all times been manufacturing. From the begin, North American officers pushed for it to be in-built the U.S., however capability was a difficulty. Hyundai could not construct sufficient Tucsons again in 2015, not to mention add a truck primarily based on the similar platform. Nor might Hyundai meet the demand for the Hyundai Santa Fe assembled at the Kia plant in West Point, Georgia.
All alongside, the Hyundai Santa Cruz was designed to be an inexpensive, entry-level way of life automobile, beginning at about $25,000 (that was in 2015, however the manufacturing pickup might nonetheless begin as little as $26,000). It is a automobile for the one who desires some pickup attributes however doesn’t want class-leading floor clearance or payload or towing capability.
More Unibody Pickups in the Works
The Santa Cruz will not be the solely compact pickup coming to market, as the 2022 Ford Maverick pickup, which slots under the Ford Ranger, is due to arrive in the coming months. Meanwhile, Stellantis remains to be determining if the rebirth of the Dakota ought to take the type of a smaller, unibody truck. It is an concept that dates again to the Dodge M80 pickup idea that debuted at the 2002 Detroit present. FCA even began constructing a plant in Windsor, Ontario, to produce the little truck however when the firm’s funds went south, the program was killed. The shell of the unfinished plant has since been razed.