Once upon a time, North Americans had a bit of a love affair with the original crossover vehicles from Ford and Chevrolet. Half pickup truck and half car, the Ranchero and El Camino were the ride of choice for many casual farmers and guys with mullets and a bad Seventies porn ‘stache. Later on, Subaru created the Brat, which also saw some popularity, albeit on a smaller scale. Then, the concept sort of died off here until Subaru tried to revive it with the Baja version of the Outback, which never really caught on.
Down Under however, Aussie consumers have continued to love the idea, dubbing it a Ute.
It was sort of appropriate then that I was fortunate to spend some quality time with the guy who created the clay model of Hyundai’s spectacular Santa Cruz concept on Monday evening. Wayne Cops is a Senior Modeler at Hyundai’s California design studio who also happens to be Australian. Not much of a surprise that a Canadian and an Aussie would find each other in a bar now is there?
A relative newcomer to Hyundai, Cops also happens to be the guy who sculpted the Bugatti Veyron. Having worked for several design houses, the artist tells me that he has finally found his home at Hyundai, thanks to the passionate group of people he is surrounded with each day. He is also very excited to have been involved with creating a concept Ute of his own. The Australian media have apparently been hounding him for details before NAIAS, as they are excited about the possibility of a Ute from the brand.
Hyundai’s marketing team sees the Santa Cruz as a vehicle that might draw Millenials into showrooms by offering real world utility and cool, factor in a vehicle with a city friendly footprint. With all wheel drive and a fuel efficient four cyclinder, Hyundai hopes that Santa Cruz would appeal to adventurous young buyers who might not otherwise purchase a vehicle.
Interestingly, the press media calls the Santa Cruz a Crossover, with no mention of the word Ute. What a shame. If the buzz it created at NAIAS is any indication, Hyundai needs to build the Santa Cruz asap, regardless of whatever class moniker they choose to hang on it!
Hyundai press release
DETROIT (January 15, 2015) – Hyundai revealed its innovative Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept today at the Detroit International Auto Show. This fresh concept reflects a completely new interpretation of truck utility for the Millennial generation who now represents the second-largest population of car buyers.
“The Santa Cruz crossover truck concept meets the unspoken needs of a growing Millennial lifestyle we call ‘Urban Adventurers’, said Mark Dipko, Director of Corporate Planning at Hyundai Motor America. “This new crossover allows them all the expandable utility they need throughout their active week without the typical compromises they have come to expect from the industry’s current product offerings.”
Modern urbanization is underway around the world, and the trend is strongly felt by young adults who face tighter parking on streets and parking garages, and increasing congestion overall. With their active social and community life, these “Urban Adventurers” bring a pioneering spirit to make their neighborhoods a better place to live and work. They need a vehicle versatile enough to accommodate both passengers and gear, while being efficient enough to fit into their unique urban lifestyle.
SANTA CRUZ CONCEPT
Santa Cruz doesn’t focus on all the same attributes as traditional pickups. It was designed to meet these Urban Adventurers’ desire for expression, efficiency, and manoeuvrability. Hyundai designers created a unique, bold design that conveys their lifestyle, with a cascading, fan-like front grille, an aggressive side-profile rake, oversized wheels with center-locking hubs, and highly-contoured cargo bed forms. The wheel arches, roof, and bed rails offer convenient tie-down cleats for securing cargo of all shapes and sizes. For ease of access to the rear seats, the concept features convenient, rear-hinged rear doors which integrate seamlessly with the front door design.
Efficiency is a key attribute of its advanced powertrain, with a 2.0-litre Turbo Diesel powertrain delivering 190 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, while achieving fuel economy of 7.8 L/100 km. Santa Cruz also offers Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system for all-conditions confidence.
The concept is purposefully compact, making it ideal for navigating the urban jungle or a tight parking spot that most pickup drivers often have to pass by. Santa Cruz not only offers typical CUV driving character, its versatile cargo bed also provides separated storage for all the bulky or dirty gear the day’s activities require. During the work week, gear stays securely locked in the back, under an integrated, rigid tonneau cover that conveniently retracts out of the way when not needed.
INNOVATIVE TAILGATE EXTENSION
The modern lifestyle of the Urban Adventurers might sometimes call for even more cargo room. To answer that need, Santa Cruz offers an innovative tailgate extension. When fully extended, Santa Cruz’s bed length is comparable to a mid-size pickup, providing the ability to carry much more than its compact footprint would suggest. Santa Cruz was not designed as an alternative to a truck, so towing, payload and ground clearance were not primary goals. Rather, it’s intended to attract CUV and sedan buyers who are seeking greater utility, without the compromises that traditional trucks often require.
MORPHING LIFESTYLE DEMANDS
With the pickup truck share of the industry down over five percent in the last 10 years, there is a need for a vehicle that more closely matches these morphing lifestyles of young adults. Santa Cruz is for the growing population who sees and pursues the world differently, those who want all the traditional attributes of a small CUV, but need the day-to-day versatility of an open bed. It’s the crossover truck that meets the unspoken needs of Urban Adventurers.