Santa Cruz-inspired Hyundai pickup on its way to production

After years of limbo, Hyundai's Ridgeline fighter is happening.

In October 2018, Hyundai CEO Wonhee Lee revealed the Santa Cruz concept -- a Honda Ridgeline-like unibody pickup -- remained in limbo. Lee's team has made a decision and, somewhat unsurprisingly, the concept is officially on its way to production.

"You've seen the [Santa Cruz] pick-up from the 2015 Detroit show, that car is under development at Hyundai," Luc Donckerwolke, The Hyundai group's chief design officer, said in an interview with British magazine Autocar. He added that his team's design work is essentially done, and the firm has started the process of turning sketches and clay  models into a production vehicle. We'll have to wait to find out how much the Santa Cruz (pictured) has changed since its unveiling in 2015.

Donckerwolke didn't say when production of the yet-unnamed pickup will start. However, in October, Lee affirmed the model would take about 32 months to launch, meaning we won't see it until 2021 at the earliest.

As we previously reported, the yet-unnamed truck will likely share its platform with the next-generation Tucson. Lee affirmed Hyundai will build the model in its Alabama factory in order to avoid paying the Chicken Tax established in 1964 by president Lyndon Johnson. It slaps a 25-percent tariff on all imported trucks.

Donckerwolke noted Kia could get its own version of the truck. It would share its basic platform with Hyundai's Santa Cruz, but design tweaks would differentiate the two models. If it's approved for production, Kia's variant will arrive later than Hyundai's.

Hyundai may have more competition than it initially anticipated when it enters the pickup segment. The Atlas Tanoak concept that Volkswagen introduced at the 2018 New York auto show hinted at an Atlas-based pickup aimed at the Ridgeline. It's in limbo, however. The South Korean firm will also need to fend off more traditional rivals like the Ford Ranger and the Toyota Tacoma.

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