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A Hyundai pickup truck was one of this year’s big surprises at the Detroit Auto Show and while it might be a concept it’s far closer to becoming a reality than anyone might have guessed.

“We’re very anxious to do something with the idea,” Mike O’Brien, Hyundai Motor America’s VP of product planning said.

According to O’Brien the Santa Cruz concept is the result of 18 months of planning and isn’t just a fancy model. In fact, everything about it is very real.

“The engineering feasibility work has been done,” he said, commenting that it’s based on an existing crossover platform.

That platform is likely the very same one that underpins the Tucson and O’Brien admits that the trucks specs are, “very similar to a sub-compact CUV.” What that means is that he expects a tow rating between 1,500 to 2,500 lbs, so it can tow anything from a jet ski to a pop-up trailer.

Hyundai currently doesn’t offer any diesels in North America, but that could very well change with the introduction of the Santa Cruz. “This particular platform could have the diesel shown which is in production today,” said O’Brien. That engine is a 2.0-liter turbo delivering 190 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque.

While O’Brien said Hyundai has a wide variety of powertrains that could work in this platform application, “The diesel is the most promising because of the fuel economy it delivers.”

Surprisingly, it’s also what customers are demanding. “It best matches in our research of what these customers are looking for,” said O’Brien. “Outstanding fuel economy, good torque and good driveability.”

He also thinks a diesel is the right fit in terms of the concept behind the truck. “It gives it a sense of durability and ruggedness.”

In addition, high-MPG diesels are becoming a necessity as automakers strive to meet increasingly strict government mandated corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) targets. O’Brien explained that while Hyundai is committed to the CAFE target of 54 mpg by 2015, “We won’t do that with the current product mix.”

He said that in order to achieve that goal two things need to happen. The first is improved technology by automakers. The second is a migration from truck category vehicles to car category vehicles. However, “The opposite is happening,” said O’Brien, noting the growth in popularity of crossovers.

To force the switch to fuel efficient models and products with fuel efficient engines he suggests the Santa Cruz as a “countermeasure,” offering fuel economy in the the high 30s but with truck utility.

Specifically, the freedom of an open bed is something O’Brien said younger buyers are eager for. They’re fans of compact crossovers, but in Hyundai’s research they don’t want to mix their interior space with their outdoor toys. “This idea of some open bed utility just keeps growing in terms of interest,” he said.

“It’s always harder to do something that doesn’t exist. But think about it; CUVs didn’t exist 10 years ago. It really took one or two manufacturers to just say ‘let’s try it out an see what happens.'”

O’Brien did caution that Hyundai has made no decision on the Santa Cruz just yet, though he certainly outlined all of the reasons that it will more than likely move ahead with it. Based on an existing platform, “It really helps mange the cost of engineering, helping us make it a competitively priced product.”

The introduction of the Santa Cruz could help Hyundai double the number of models based on the same architecture. It already sells 50,000 Tucsons per year in the U.S. “We think this product would certainly be that or better,” O’Brien said.
http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2015/01/why-hyundai-will-build-the-santa-cruz-pickup.html
 

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Hmmm...O'Brien. In ANOTHER THREAD about this very caah, there's a reference to Hugh O'Brian! :eek:

Coincidence? :rolleyes: I think not!!

 

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If Hyundai builds this and it sells like hotcakes, does that mean GM will release the already-engineered Holden Ute as an El Camino?

No? Oh never mind....
Even if they did, it wouldn't do well. It has no back seat and doesn't come close in mpg. Being sedan based, it would be seen on a similar level as a wagon. A CUV stands a much better chance in the US.
 

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I wonder how much interest there really is for a SUB compact truck like this OR is it they are looking at nissan/Toyota that both make a F150 copy that is as good as the original BUT can NOT get a foot hold sales wise and have decided to try something different
 

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According to Hyundai:
Hyundai research revealed that not everyone who wants an open-bed vehicle is willing to accept the tradeoffs that come with it. As evidence of this, industry pickup truck share is down over five percent in the last 10 years, with the biggest shift among young adults, reflecting a need for something that more closely matches these morphing lifestyles. In the past, small trucks accounted for half of pickup sales, and they were particularly popular with younger buyers. Today, that same young truck market is almost non-existent, and millennials under 30 represent just seven percent of all pickup purchases. Women, who buy more than half of all CUVs sold, now account for only 10 percent of pickup sales. Santa Cruz is intended to meet the customer needs that the current truck product offering is simply not fulfilling.

Santa Cruz is for the growing population who sees and pursues the world differently, those who want all the traditional attributes of a small CUV, but need the day-to-day versatility of an open bed. It’s the crossover truck that meets the unspoken needs of Urban Adventurers.
 

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If Hyundai builds this and it sells like hotcakes, does that mean GM will release the already-engineered Holden Ute as an El Camino?

No? Oh never mind....
Of course they will! Do not doubt their timeliness timing.

Some dood will make a big speech, announcing the introduction of the Santo Domingo sub-PUT for MY 2021. Just around the corner.
 

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Interesting, sounds like they've really put a lot of thought into this, and it isn't simply another wacky concept with no hope of being produced. Modelling it after a CUV is probably a smart move; might be easier to convince CUV people to buy a CUV-style pickup than to switch completely and buy a traditional pickup, even a small one.

I think it would be smart if they offered rear caps as an option, but ones designed and integrated by Hyundai themselves for a seamless look and fit. Might bridge the gap even further for CUV fans, and in many cases I suspect these people won't be dumping loads of gravel in the bed, so access through the rear gate is probably sufficient.
 

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Integrated cover and extending bed:














I assume if this goes to production they will have to redesign the rear so that when the tailgate is down it still has visible rear lights and signals.

I'm also interested in how they plan to design the extending mechanism to handle any debris that ends up in that gap in the floor of the bed when extended.
 

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I like it. I would never buy a full size truck but something like this would allow me to daily drive it and would do just about everything else I need it to. If they offer the 2.0 Turbo and the diesel they mention with AWD they have something way more compelling than the Honda Ridgeline. At least this looks fairly sporty.
 

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I would never buy a full size truck but something like this would allow me to daily drive it and would do just about everything else I need it to.
Agreed, almost bought a Colorado in 2004 but ended up in a Vibe as I much preferred the ride and handling and fuel economy, and it offered the excellent hard-plastic fold-down cargo area, complete with tie-downs. It was a handy small hauler for moving, trips to the dump, and carting parts to automobile swap meets. If this Hyundai splits the difference between a pickup and a wagon / CUV, it would definitely be the kind of vehicle I'd buy.
 

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Nice work, Bahama Todd.

A bed stretch of a foot or more would bring this into usefulness range.

But as someone stated, a cap produced by Hyundai and matched up would be very groovey. As would a slider back window. And of course the mandatory AWD option.
 

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I'm wondering about the size of this thing. Reports claim that this is based on the Tucson which is only 173" long (only 2" longer than a Vibe). I have some software that can measure length based on a calibration, and based on the tires I did confirm that it is only about 175" long. Hyundai did mention that they wanted to the extend the back seat a little. I would think this would be better suited with another foot in length. My Accord coupe is a little over 190" long so it shouldn't be a problem.

Good visual reference:

The concept has 265/40/22 tires which are actually only 30" overall.



The Colorado also has 30" tires.





This thing really is tiny.
 

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Based on the Tucson, Santa Fe Sport or Santa Fe LWB - take your pick - all available with 4WD
It should be based on the Santa Fe LWB. That's the only rational place to go, with four doors. What good is a two foot bed?
 
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