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Two Years Later, Hyundai Still Won’t Confirm Santa Cruz Pickup Production

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept - Image: Hyundai

Two years have passed since Hyundai dropped the Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept at 2015’s North American International Auto Show.

A small, stylish, affordable, diesel-powered trucklet? Give’er the green light, the internet says.

Hyundai has consistently supplied plenty of information in the 24 months since the truck’s debut to stoke Santa Cruz-oriented hype. “There is a very high probability we get the approval of the truck soon,” now-departed Hyundai USA boss Dave Zuchowski said 20 months ago.

Soon? Clearly not.

Acknowledging Hyundai is “working as hard as we can to make it happen,” Hyundai’s vice president of corporate and product planning, Mike O’Brien, told Car And Driver that Hyundai is still not entirely certain the Santa Cruz is bound for production.

As Hyundai’s been doing for the last two years, O’Brien pointed to a number of factors in support of eventual Santa Cruz production.

First, the market needs a pickup truck rated at more than 30 miles per gallon. Second, young urbanites “don’t need 7,000 pounds’ worth of towing,” O’Brien told C/D. As for Hyundai’s vice chairman Chung Eui-sun, “He wants that car,” O’Brien says.

Production limitations, meanwhile, continue to be a problem for Hyundai’s light-truck division. Believing that more production capacity would be required just to meet Tucson, Santa Fe Sport, and Santa Fe demand, O’Brien admits the need for further investment.

Without the Go order yet given to the Santa Cruz, the next vehicles Hyundai displays at auto shows in North America clearly won’t be tiny pickup trucks. At the Chicago show in February, O’Brien says Hyundai will be launching an as-yet-unknown new vehicle. Hyundai’s North American debut of the Elantra-related RN30 Concept (from last year’s Paris show) will take place this week at the 2017 Montreal Auto Show.

But a Santa Cruz? Despite everything we’ve heard before, nope. At least, not yet.

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept - Image: Hyundai

“We’re waiting more for an announcement than we are for an approval, right?,â€� former Hyundai USA boss Dave Zuchowski told Australian reporters one year ago, leading to headlines like, “Hyundai Greenlights Pickup,” at PickupTrucks.com.

“It’s been advanced as we understand it,” Hyundai Australia’s COO, Scott Grant, told CarAdvice last July.

“We have made the decision,” Zuchowski told Motor Trend last August. “We have not made the announcement.”

“Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup getting hauled into showrooms in 2018,” Fox News reported the same month, based on those statements. TTAC, too, said the Santa Cruz is, “absolutely going to happen.”

Regardless of what Hyundai has led us to believe in the past, we’ve now learned that Hyundai is not yet ready to pull the trigger. The belief that roughly 50,000 Santa Cruz pickups would need to find U.S. homes per year should be a leading cause of caution and delay.

50,000? That’s a level of success American Honda’s Ridgeline has only encountered once.

[Images: Hyundai]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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