Remember the Santa Cruz compact pickup thing Hyundai trotted out at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show? The company’s executives do–because in spite of skepticism, it once again seems they’re still committed to making this mini truck a reality.
We’ve had a few “yes it’s really happening” updates on this vehicle since we first heard about it, but I still raise an eyebrow every time it comes up.
The latest is that Hyundai’s just announced that “the Santa Cruz compact utility vehicle will join the Santa Fe SUV and the Sonata and Elantra sedans at Hyundai’s U.S. automotive assembly plant in Montgomery, starting in 2021.” Apparently the company is pushing a big pile of money into this dream which makes me think, hey, maybe we really are going to see a practical American-made U.S.-market compact pickup truck in this timeline after all!
Straight From Hyundai’s release:
“The plant will require a $410 million expansion to support the addition of the vehicle. This includes additional space in the stamping, welding and parts processing areas of the manufacturing complex. Direct employment will increase by 200 jobs and local suppliers and logistics companies who support HMMA are projected to employ an additional 1,000 people in Montgomery and the River Region.”
“Santa Cruz is for those who want all the traditional attributes of a compact utility vehicle, but need the day-to-day versatility of an open bed. It’s the crossover that creates a whole new segment that successfully combines capability and utility to meet the unspoken needs of a new generation of buyers, especially Millennials.”
The vehicle, which we assume will look something like the 2015 concept car pictured above but really who knows, is described as a “compact utility vehicle,” a “crossover,” and most importantly, as having “an open bed.”
Without digging through the archives, I’m guessing it’s likely I wrote a breathlessly excited blog about the Santa Cruz concept when it was fresh four years ago. I certainly remember reading a few of those. A small, practical, (probably) efficient and (likely) reliable little truck? What’s not to get fired up about?!
Having had a long time to think about it, now I’m mostly just intrigued at the prospect of a substantial company like Hyundai trying something atypical. I can’t earnestly claim I’d be in a hurry to line up for a modern Korean El Camino, but I could see the appeal and I appreciate diversity in the automotive ecosystem.