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Hyundai Australia ‘talking to the Americans’ about new ute

Hyundai has confirmed it will build the Santa Cruz ute six years after it was first shown as a concept. Could it come to Australia, though?

HYUNDAI IS ENTERING the ute market, confirming it will commence production of the Santa Cruz utility in 2021.

The vehicle, spawned from the Hyundai Santa Cruz concept shown at the 2015 Detroit motor show, will be a four-door ‘lifestyle’ ute constructed on a monocoque chassis and appealing to those who want a vehicle with a bit of utility and personality, though not at the expense of ride comfort.

Built at Hyundai’s Montgomery plant in Alabama, the Santa Cruz will roll down the line following a $420m USD upgrade to the Southern US facility. Locally produced for that market, it will avoid a steep 25 percent import tax, but its origin could prove problematic for right-hand drive markets that are desperate to offer a ute.

It’s no secret Hyundai and its sibling brand Kia want to offer a ute in Australia but the soft-roader Santa Cruz is unlikely to meet the workhorse expectations most Australians have for a one-tonne, ladder-frame commercial vehicle.

That said, Hyundai Australia hasn’t ruled out selling some Down Under if it can be produced in RHD.

“There is the American Santa Cruz pickup which is a lifestyle ute and again that is of interest to us,” Hyundai Australia marketing director Bill Thomas told Practical Motoring last month when asked about Hyundai’s options for utes in Australia.

“I’m not sure whether we’d take it even if it was available in right-hand drive – we don’t know if it can be. But we’re certainly looking at it and will be talking to the Americans about that and how it is going because that could be interesting.

“If it was the right price and right powertrain you’d think we could sell a few of them.”

Hyundai is not providing any details on the Santa Cruz other than to confirm its production. However, earlier this year, a local Kia spokesperson confirmed a Hyundai/Kia ladder-frame dual-cab ute was in development and would arrive in Australia early 2020s.

Hyundai Australia’s first ute will likely be a ladder-frame vehicle developed with Kia.

That vehicle’s requirements (engine, towing capacity, dimensions, etc) has already been discussed at length by Hyundai Australia to head office. You can read more on that new ute here: Hyundai ute will be built for Australians.

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Alex Rae

Alex Rae