Back in August, Hyundai confirmed plans to bring its upcoming pickup truck to the ‘States. With the new product expected to look similar to the crossover-based Santa Cruz pickup truck concept we first saw back in 2015, it was exciting news. But while we may get the truck, it sounds like other markets may get a high-end performance alternative that would be even cooler.
Speaking with Australia’s Motoring, Andrew Tuitahi, Hyundai Australia’s head of product planning, said his company is evaluating the possibility of building a more utilitarian truck that would get a premium cabin and a more powerful engine.
“When we feed back [to Seoul] with key criteria, one of the elements is cabin appointments, another is engine performance,” he said.
“What we’ve seen typically is a four-cylinder diesel workhorse, but we’re watching Amarok come with a V-6, the Ranger Raptor with a 2.7-litre V-6 turbo maybe.”
If Hyundai executives are going to greenlight the project, though, those other top-trim trucks are going to have to succeed first.
“We’ll watch that space and see what customer acceptance is,” Tuitahi said.
“They’ll be quite pricey, and we’ll need to see if people are willing to pay for those performance trucks.”
But before Hyundai can take on high-end versions of the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux, it needs to find a place to build the truck, potentially in Thailand.
“There’s a few things that need to take place before we can really be confident in a product coming to market in the next two or three years. So I think first we need to identify a factory before we go through more milestones, before we build the pickup. As it stands right now we don’t really see a suitable location. Once that’s been finalized then we’ll get through the gates pretty quickly,” said Tuitahi.
Assuming Hyundai finds a place for a new factory and actually does decide to build a utilitarian alternative to the Santa Cruz, don’t expect to see it sold in the U.S. The “chicken tax” all but guarantees that any truck built overseas won’t make it here.