HYUNDAI has finalised the design of a car-based ute, and its preparing it for production according to the company’s chief design officer.

Dubbed the Santa Cruz, and based on the concept vehicle of the same name shown at the 2015 Detroit motor show, the ute would be a first for the Korean manufacturer.

Speaking to UK publication Autocar, Hyundai Motor Group’s chief design officer Luc Donckerwolke confirmed the vehicle is currently in the advanced stages of development, and will go into production “as soon as possible”.

“From my side [design] it is finished, the process to put it into production is now under way,” he said.

A Hyundai Australia spokesperson told Wheels the company is interested in selling the ute locally, but could not confirm any details.

“We are closely monitoring the market, but there are no plans yet in regards to the Santa Cruz. However, adding a ute to our local line-up would be hugely beneficial.”

Wheels understands the Santa Cruz will not be a Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux rival, rather a crossover ute closer in execution to the car-based Commodore and Falcon utes formerly built in Australia.

It is understood Hyundai will build the Santa Cruz in North American for domestic consumption, and there’s a chance its US focus could rule out right-hand drive production. More on that will become clear closer to its anticipated launch in 2020.

Donckerwolke also stated Hyundai’s sister-company Kia is considering building its own version of the ute, which would have different exterior and interior stylings, and launch after the Santa Cruz.

If a production version of the Santa Cruz ute does find its way Down Under, it would fill a portion of the market that has recently become vacant, putting it in good stead to find favour with local consumers.

Source: Whichcar

December 6, 2018