Hyundai Pickup Not Coming To The U.S. Just Yet

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - November 2, 2018

Back in 2015, at the North American International Auto Show, Hyundai unveiled the Santa Cruz pickup concept. The truck, even as a concept, garnered a lot of attention and was even, okayed for production in 2017. While all of this read like Hyundai was ready to put a pickup into production, Automotive News now reports that the truck is still some years away.

As Hyundai's CEO, Wonhee Lee, told the outlet, the main priority for the South Korean brand is to introduce more SUVs and crossovers, and with the CEO accounting for his CUV plans to come to fruition in three years, a truck is off in the distance. The good news is that the truck will be based on the Santa Cruz concept we saw a few years ago.

The concept was edgy and bold and looked unlike anything else in Hyundai's lineup. Instead of competing with the likes of the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and Ram 1500, the main competition for the Santa Cruz concept was the Honda Ridgeline. Instead of the sleek, two-door version that was unveiled at the auto show, the report states that the truck would be more of a “semi-pickup” and have seating for up to four. The truck, according to the CEO, will also have a sliding bed that that extends.

Crucially, the pickup truck will use the same platform as the next-gen Tucson compact crossover, which means it will handle more like a car than a heavy-duty truck. The next-generation of the Tucson is set to go on sale in South Korea in 2020, claims the outlet. It probably won't go on sale in the U.S. until 2021. Even then, Lee states that the truck is still in the basic research and development stage and would take 32 months to switch over to production.

Hyundai Santa Cruz

Besides the timeline, Hyundai will also have the issue of dealing with things like brand recognition. Truck buyers, especially those in the United States, are extremely brand loyal, with the majority of individuals continuing to choose one of the time-proven options. Even in the mid-size segment, Hyundai can expect some stiff competition from the Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma, and Chevrolet Colorado. Those will probably be larger than the production-ready Santa Cruz and have body-on-frame designs, though.

Then there's the issue of the import tax, which is better known as the Chicken Tax. That tax subjects light trucks that are imported into the country to a 25 percent tariff. That's a hefty tariff, which has caused manufacturers to completely move their light-truck production to the U.S., something Hyundai will probably have to do if it wants to sell a truck in the country.

If Hyundai does decide to build the pickup in America, it would most likely do it at its plant in Montgomery, Alabama, which would need to be retooled to handle the vehicle. With consumers moving toward SUVs, rising gas prices, and more competition in the used-car market, spending that kind of money and time into developing a pickup will be a hard sell.

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter | Website

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