Hyundai took many by surprise in 2015 at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show by revealing a unique concept vehicle: the Santa Cruz pickup, an obvious response to the Honda Ridgeline, featured out-of-the-box styling and was all the more remarkable for having come from the South Korean automaker.
A year later reports were declaring that it would go to production for a 2017 launch. But here we are, three years after its first showing, and no Santa Cruz in sight. What gives? In a recent interview with Motor Trend, Brian Smith, head of operations for Hyundai U.S., stated that the Santa Cruz remained an active, highly valued project within the walls of Hyundai HQ.
However, the R&D department at the automaker is currently occupied with other projects higher on the company’s priority list. This explains what could turn out to be a five- or six-year lag between the initial concept unveiling and when the first production rubber hits the road.
Normally, this kind of delay spells trouble for the styling and original design elements that made the concept so intriguing. New people, new strategies, new directions can all play a hand in altering the model’s looks. Certainly Hyundai’s design signature has evolved since 2015. On the other hand, the company’s new head of design, Luc Donckerwolke, recently mentioned that the automaker would move away from trying to create a uniform look across its roster.