Hyundai Greenlights Pickup

Santa Cruz 2 II

The last time we heard about the Hyundai Santa Cruz concept pickup truck (first introduced at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit), there was quite a bit of internal debate going on at Hyundai about its viability, but things looked like they were progressing through the product planning process.

No doubt debate will continue about whether it's the right time for the long-familiar idea of a sport utility or crossover utility truck. But with the recent debut of the second-generation, fence-straddling 2017 Honda Ridgeline, oil prices below $30 a barrel, strong pickup sales overall and a growing midsize segment, maybe the market is ready now. Certainly Jeep thinks so, and if rumors at Mitsubishi and Volkswagen are true, we might see even more midsize choices in the next few years.

But do we need a downsized pickup like the Santa Cruz that offers fewer of the traditional truck benefits and more carlike limitations?

According to, Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski said during the 2016 Detroit Auto Show that the only thing left to decide about a new downsized pickup was timing of the official announcement. Zuchowski also said he believes the new Hyundai pickup, whatever it is called, will appeal to crossover utility and certain SUV buyers.

It should be interesting to see how Hyundai can produce this pickup given the company's existing platforms, and then how it will sell it in the competitively priced midsize pickup segment. Although the 2017 Ridgeline prices will not be released for several months, we imagine that for a new Hyundai pickup to be successful, it would have to be priced below the new Ridgeline to have broad appeal. However, that might be something more in line with corporate sibling Kia's brand image. If brand history holds true, Hyundai may want to position and price the new model as more upscale and more expensive. There's no question Hyundai has a lot to sort out here. More to come. photo by Mark Williams


Santa Cruz 1 II



So....where's the pickup?

would be a great wknd warrior trucklet.

One thing that is certain here, Hyundai's final form will quite different from what we are seeing here. I think it will use the Ridgeline as a benchmark, and go for something that will be more competitive to the standard midsize trucks than the Ridgeline will be.

As far as those rumors go, I think Volkswagen is more fact than fiction. I still expect Mitsubishi to leave the US market within the next 12 to 18 months, as their focus seems to shift more to Southeast Asia and the Pacific region.

I really don't know how big the US market would be for this style of pickup.

The bed size is quite small, to the point where a CUV/SUV could easily replace this vehicle.

As I've mentioned earlier, a single cab version of this would be a far better proposition.

Subaru tried this with the Baja, was a flop

Cool little truck

Just not very practicle. You only have a 4 foot bed, at least with a crossover you can put the back seats down and get 6-8 feet of cargo room yet a full size back seat when u haul people.

I wonder if you can get a 5th wheel prep package.

So another probably smarter alternative to a pretend midsized truck for people who don't really need trucks but again this wont fly because its not gonna deliver on stance, offroad, and vanity while taking away the warm dry cargo area of the CUV in favor of a bed good for light tasks. While these hermaphrodites can be very cool and a cheaper, smarter, more efficient, more comfortable alternative to midsized pretend trucks not built for real work anyway they all are ultimately doomed due to lack of appeal and very limited niche markets. Its an idea everyone likes that never seems to really work even if it occasionally gets a little traction.

How many decades ago was the Scubbie Doo?

My belief is a dual cab is not the answer, a single cab is.

The person who will buy this will be young or old.

This trucklet needs 2 rows of seats to succeed. that means either a tiny box or a Avalanche style midgate to gain some extra space. A slide out rear section like shown on the concept would be too prone to malfunctions especially in colder climates.

Vulpine already said he'd buy the Jeep truck so that means only 999 other small trucklet buyers will want this.

Good luck Hyundai.

At least Jeep has a rugged image which helps sell tons of Jeeps to image concious buyers. This will have Hyundai's reputation for stellar reliability (sarcasm on).

Big Al the Baja was 1 decade ago 2002-2006. And I agree it needs two rows to succeed.

You guys are missing the point--this is not a truck. It is a small car that is shaped like a truck, sort of.

but if this is a truck, then Big Al is a movie star.

Scooby Doo was started in 1969.

NO ONE other than fleets and price sensitive buyers with no friends or family want regular cab vehicles.

Does Colorado have a regular cab?

Does Canyon have a regular cab?

Does the new Ridgeline have a regular cab?

What was Tacoma's plan in relation to regular cab?

Was there a story on PUTC stating that CAFE "footprint" rules was endangering the regular cab?

"My belief is a dual cab is not the answer, a single cab is."

The Wizard of oz has spoken once again.

Post Script - I just checked Toyota USA's web site..........

GUESS WHAT????????????????

They don't offer a regular cab truck!

@Lou, since Big Al has yet to respond, I'm sure he will show up under another name like he usually does after being called out.

Its interesting this single cab stuff, I have a guy at work that has a single cab silverado, I asked why he wanted one, he said flat out price, no kids, by himself, no reason for more than a single cab....kinda weird, with all the names BIg Al uses on here, I would think he would want a Crew cab to fit everyone in.

Lou aka BCMike,
What do you mean by buyers with no friends or family want this? What is that about?

And who are you referring to?

Speak for yourself because you do not know anyone here or what they want.

Big Al warned you that more midsizers were coming and you did not heed the warning.

Next time listen to Big Al and you might learn something.

Cab style and design has many variable that is dictating what is being bought other than "having friends".

CAFE has also created the "big" pickup.

Also, if you have any knowledge of the motor vehicle industry you would first look at the demographic this vehicle is targeting.

What age group are buying the more traditional style of pickup?

Hmmm ................. BCMike, it appears there is much more to a pickup than load and tow and dual cabs to consider.

I'll "learn" you eventually.

The practicality of the Santa Cruz concept is certainly up for debate. The styling of this thing is right on the money for a vehicle undoubtedly designed for young urban dwellers. It offers head turning good looks, small enough to fit in city sized parking stall and can move some items when you need to. You can probably move household appliances in that truck no problem. Hyundai needs to work with the aftermarket accessories supplier next.

Not unlike my recent comment about Honda's bad timing, Hyundai's may be worse.

Honda has been building cars in Marysville Ohio for decades, but Hyundai's new plant in Alabama still has the new car smell. Which for you guys who went to public school means the cost of financing the construction of their big plant is a cloud hanging over anything they do that's too edgy marketing-wise.

Good luck to the Koreans but they're taking a big chance on this one. They would have been smarter to build a half ton to compete in a well developed market that already exists and is worth billions of dollars.

Hyundai's little micro truck is attempting to create a market that only has one buyer at this point---Vulpine, Roadwhale, whatever he calls himself these days.

papa jim - buyers tend to buy on image. That is why Jeep struck gold by adding 2 doors to the Wrangler. Tacoma et al sells well partially due to the rugged truck image. The Hyundai "truck" does not push any of those buttons...... just ask Honda how a non-traditional truck worked out for them. I'm sure that the new more truck like Ridgeline will do better.

@Wizard of Oz - "it appears there is much more to a pickup than load and tow and dual cabs to consider."


Ironic how a person who does not live and breath Canadian or American truck culture feels that he knows more about it than us.

I'd pass on the unibody stuff. Just watch videos of people trying to open and close doors on cars on lifts, with a lot more structure to them. Now throw 1,000 pounds in the back, no thanks. I'd rather have a single cab truck to, but some times I have to carry people to a job site and paper work needs to stay dry and other things that don't do well wet. So I'm stuck with getting a Ext cab truck. Just wished they'd offer a 8ft bed with Ext cab trucks still in a half ton. These will sell but not very well.

big al. There's a lot you don't know about the US market. Hard to know much when you don't even live here. Which is why so many people don't care to hear your opinions, which are usually way off from what Americans think. Which is why your predictions are usually wrong.

That looks like a big-time towing rig from down under.

Sorry, I couldn't resist...

@LouBC my comment is admittedly speculation, and my own viewpoint on Hyundai's gamble.

South Korea has a hot economy right now but the target market for their new pickup, one assumes, is the first-world nations like those in North America and Europe.

Economy is not so hot in US and Canada. In fact, it's so bad that Walmart announced this week that they are closing a zillion stores. When the marketing geniuses from Bentonville AR are losing money, you know that the consumer economy is crap.

So my point is that Honda has been on the economic roller coaster a few times and they tend to land on their feet. Hyundai will be really testing themselves with their little (pickup) car that looks like a truck.

papa jim - I'm not sure this would work in a 2nd or 3rd world environment so I agree that this would target the USA and Canada. I base that on the premise that the actual unit that goes on sale will be close to this concept. With that being said, the Strada and South American Colorado sell okay in 2nd and 3rd worlds and both are unibody front drive vehicles.

@papa jim,

Good evening. The economy is crap but there is more to the Walmart closings.

Walmart is closing the small dollar stores that they opended in 2011 as a test. The concept never caught on. It was a failure. What they found out is shoppers prefer the full-size box stores. So they will focus on the big box stores from now on.

I agree with the rest of your post.

@LouBC I don't mean to suggest that I don't respect the Hyundai front office guys. They are just more risk tolerant than the Asian makers we're used to. Nissan, Toyota and Honda have been pretty conservative over the years.

Hyundai's guys have been smelling like a rose for about 15 years despite their number one market being in the crapper for most of that time.

papa jim,

Sales at U.S. retailers declined in December to wrap the weakest year since 2009, raising concern about the momentum in consumer spending heading into 2016.

What happend to the recovery PUTC was talking about?

@Jeff S thanks for your comments today. In my opinion Walmart could have carried that dollar store concept on one shoulder and not even noticed its failings except for one thing: Prospects for US economic growth are pretty cold right now. We've had 18 months of declining gas prices--which should have acted like a pay raise for US consumers, instead we have a contracting equities market and a grim employment picture, despite all the happy BS we read in places like Bloomburg, and PUTC.

Reality is, that Americans haven't had a decent pay raise, apart from some commodity prices being soft, since the later days of the Clinton presidency.

Interest rates are officially headed up and the average family will start REALLY feeling the pain for all of the credit card spending they've been doing. All of the zero interest deals are about to go poof! and when that happens a lot of families will really have to tighten their wallets.

We have a great country, a productive workforce--more energy and tech resources than any generation in history.

Our economy ought to be hitting home runs and it's not.

You got that right papa jim...

The US being one of the primary owners and producers of energy was always in the direct line of fire regarding the lower prices of energy.

I do agree with the current state of the US economy, it isn't as rosy as the Fed's Yellen would like all to believe.

Once upon a time when the US sneezed they said the world catches a cold. Now it seems when the Chinese sneeze as well the world catches a cold.

The current fluctuations in world markets is due to the weakness in Chinese and global growth. Markets are only an indicator of preceived future growth. It's a gamble, speculative.

Money will move back into the reserve currencies, like the USD, Euro, Pound Sterling and even the Swiss Franc.

Countries like Canada and Australia will be hit, but not as hard as middle and developing economies.

Australia has faired well so far. The decline from what is termed the mining boom, which was really and infrastructure boom has been taken up by other sectors within the Australian economy, construction, agri and tourism. The commodities sector is producing more tons than ever before. This was always going to be the outcome.

The same has occurred with oil. Oil prices rose on China thirst for oil and other commodities, now this has ended and the unviable producers will fold, ie, fracking operations and even the Alberta tar sands will find it hard to make ends meet.

On the other side of the coin a massive drop in the Chinese markets will not have the same effects as say even a EU market collapsing. Chinese markets are still quite insular with most exposure within China.

The next natural step up from a FIAT truck.

What are the rumors regarding Mitsubishi selling a pickup truck in the U.S.? I have not heard anything.

As for the Santa Cruz, I think Hyundai is making a mistake if it chooses to develop this product. The market for a fwd unibody subcompact truck with a tiny bed would be very small.

Hyundai would be better off developing a body-on-frame compact/mid-sized truck roughly the size of the last U.S. Ford Ranger. That means extended cab with an overall length of around 200 inches with six-foot bed, 4x4 capability with locking differential, and towing capability of 5,000 lbs. Perhaps they could modify the platform used for the Kia Borrego.

Interest rates are officially headed up and the average family will start REALLY feeling the pain for all of the credit card spending they've been doing. All of the zero interest deals are about to go poof! and when that happens a lot of families will really have to tighten their wallets.
Our economy ought to be hitting home runs and it's not.
Posted by: papa jim | Jan

Excuse me if I dont feel any sympathy for people spending money they dont have..if you dont have cash dont buy useles things and get indebted!
Explain this;
... how could money lenders earn profit if they offer you zero interest??

Btw US vehicle sales broke all records in 2015 and some factories work three shifts,how much better do you want it to get?

I see plenty of single cab old Colorados Canyons and Rangers around still so there is obviously demand..some things never change

To add to papa jim's point, the Walmart dollar store was a flop; however, I will note that if the economy was so good there wouldn't have been Walmart Dollar Stores and so many different dollar stores popping up over the last several years.

Michelle Obama said in 2008 this was the first time in her lifetime she was proud of her country. Well this is the first time in my lifetime I have seen so many dollar stores. Walmart never would have attempted that dollar store idea in 2011 if the economy was good.

In closing, now may not be a good time for more of these sketchy half-baked midsize trucklets. I hope I'm wrong.

If this truck were more along the lines of the discontinued Ranger but with an updated power train and safety features in an extended cab it would sell especially if the price was lower than the Frontier, Tacoma, and Colorado/Canyon. The last generation Ranger was about the right size in that it was not quite as big as the current midsize trucks or the current half ton full size trucks. Offer this truck with limited options and a 6 speed manual with an optional automatic. Hyundai could even share a platform and make this front wheel drive with the option of all wheel drive but at least make the bed 5 1/2 feet long.

@Chevrolet builds a better way

Some many misconceptions, so little time.

1. You winked at the correctness of my facts about the stale economy by asking a rhetorical question about "lenders making money on zero interest rate lending."

It's painfully simple, Chevy--they charge fees. Fee income for a bank is 100 percent profit. Sweet, huh? Ask anybody in banking they'll tell you the same.

Banks in America have a license to make money--it's called the Federal Reserve. They hauled in the cash back in 2008 when everything else was caving in. Despite a horrible year in 08, no bankers or politicians got fired or went to jail.

2. You must reading stuff in the paper and believe it without understanding it. 2015 sales numbers are based on vehicles shipped. Wait until we see how much unsold inventory dealers have in May--then you'll know if the Rah-Rah stories you read about the sales figures were really true.

Oddly enough our economy is very similar to the US economy in how it functions. It can't be any different.

To make a ridiculous statement that Amercians think differently is quite a big call. How can you think differently? Humans are humans irrespective of what country you come from.

As for me not understanding your market, I've done a good job so far predicting outcomes within you pickup market.

Why, do you ask? Because I'm able to look at it objectively and I'm not a brand fan like these Frod guys, including yourself.

This is where I do think differently. Fan boys can't be objective.

You are correct about inventories. I have read that the F-150 and even Nissan with the new Titan have rather large inventories.

@Big Al yes, regarding inventories, however in the case of Nissan they are launching the first real new pickup in more than five years (a lifetime in corporate America). Not having a gleaming lot full of new Titans would make their dealers go crazy after all the years they were carrying the old Titan on their backs.

Ford is another story however. They've been humping the military grade aluminum F150 for a solid year--we'll know more in May. Can you say 12,000 on the hood?


I like that.

Mark Williams; "Hyundai may want to position and price the new model as more upscale and more expensive. "

This kind of bullshi*t statement just feeds the beast. And it sounds a LOT like something a former pickuptrucks 'person' would say. This 'person' now works for ford. The idea that Ford is not making 'as much' or 'enough' profit on thier pickups is disingenuous. The 50% profit explorers of the 90's were replaced with 54% profit blinged out pickups. THAT'S why the pickup prices have outpaced inflation by 8.5 times. This kind of boo hoo, poor Ford, crap makes mad. The only 'risk' to ford in moving to aluminum was one of perception. The costs involved in the changeover are being paid by the tax payer, twice. Once when they have to pay more in taxes because the costs were deducted as a 'business expense' and again when Ford boosted the priced because of a (perceived) NEED to recoup changeover expenses. What a scam! And the American sheeple just keep gobbling it up.

WAKE UP AMERICA! It's not communists, socalists, or even muslims you need to worry about. It's corporate america thats shafting you.

@guest, you are a wee bit confused about how taxes work.

@guest as they say in Congress, allow me to extend my remarks.

You evidently believe that Washington (and state/local) authorities are better equipped to invest your dollars than you are.

Good luck with that! Look how well that worked in Russia. Their economy is run by government stooges and their buddies in the wealthy elite aka oligarchs. In less than 100 years they've managed to turn an amazingly rich land-mass into a basket case where big Oil is their only significant export.

That means the Russian people are now in for another huge economic downturn where their only big product for world consumption is getting slammed in the marketplace.

A tiny few will benefit from it and millions might starve.

The manufacturers will try to keep sales volume up by using cash back and zero to low interest rates. The manufacturers will keep churning out the vehicles and the dealers will move the inventory. Not everyone qualifies for the low and no interest rates but enough buyers qualify to move the inventory and the dealer and financial institutions still make profits on handling and processing fees. TTAC had an article about the cheap interest rates. The next big financial crisis could very well be these car loans similar to the home loans--bundle these loans together and sell them as an investment. Also the promoted lease deals are a way of moving inventory and getting return customers.

As for the Hyundai truck the volume will not be significant but if this truck shares a platform, components, and an assembly plant then it might be profitable at a lower volume. I don't think Hyundai can compete making a full size truck.

This would be perfect for Big Al. He's got nothing to tow or haul, and he really only needs one seat. I don't think anybody wants to ride along with him.

Nice to see Honda back in the truck market and even better to see FCA and Hyundai have given the Jeep midsize pickup and compact Santa Cruz the green light. Maybe by 2020 we will have 8 midsize and 2 or more compact trucks with yearly total sales 1 million + by 2023. This should create or save jobs, create a more competitive market and give truck buyers a long overdue better selection of trucks to choose from.

Ah, such narrow viewpoints overall. My friends, if there weren't a demand for a true compact trucklet, Hyundai would not have greenlighted the concept for American markets. Yes, we are all fully aware of how many people prefer something that looks like a conventional truck and to some extent even works like a conventional truck, but most of those people ignore the fact that those trucks are simply too large for a certain class of buyer and that a smaller truck that is truly sporty and yet still functional for their very limited needs is exactly what a lot of CUV owners really want.

As Big Al from Oz stated, "I really don't know how big the US market would be for this style of pickup. The bed size is quite small, to the point where a CUV/SUV could easily replace this vehicle. As I've mentioned earlier, a single cab version of this would be a far better proposition." What he overlooks is the fact that this is not intended to be a crew cab truck (at least I pray it doesn't end up as such) nor is it intended to be the equivalent of a half-ton pickup which even the current mid-sized pickups manage. No, this thing has enough bed for the average homeowner, an extended cab with enough interior space for the driver and at least one front-seat passenger plus the ability to occasionally carry one or two additional passengers or gear behind the front seats, which Australia's Utes couldn't support in their 'single cab' configuration. It truly offers a Ute-style vehicle with more practicality than the Ute at a smaller size than a mid-sized truck. This thing is fully intended to tap the very group that Big Al says will prevent its success.

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