Why Hyundai Won’t Build a Full-Size Pickup


Long rumored to launch a pickup truck in the U.S. market, Hyundai has stoked the flames with the reveal of the new Santa Cruz concept at the Detroit Auto Show.

A true compact pickup truck, it’s in no way a competitor to top sellers like the F-150 or even the new Chevy Colorado and it isn’t supposed to be.

“We are not exploring conventional pickups,” said Hyundai Motor America VP of product planning Mike O’Brien. “Our competitors have been making full size pickup trucks, some of them for over 100 years, and they certainly know their customers and they make great products. It’s not reasonable for us to think we can walk into that market and have the same level of competitiveness.”

Instead, Hyundai is looking to take the road less traveled with a pickup that’s truly small. “We need to find our own way,” he said.

True, there’s a market demand for smaller pickups, like the mid-size Chevy Colorado or Toyota Tacoma, but those trucks, O’Brien said, still don’t meet the needs of many buyers.

SEE ALSO: Why Hyundai Will Build the Santa Cruz Pickup

O’Brien said millennials are moving into urban centers at a much higher rate than past generations. “They don’t have that big parking space that we had when we were growing up with our single family home or street parking,” he said. “So maneuverability, parking and cost of ownership issues like fuel economy are much more important for them.”

He also said millennials have fewer cars per family than past generations for the same life stage. “So they’re trying to get vehicles to do more,” he said.

Not only are the new offerings in the mid-size pickup truck market not very small, they’re also not terribly fuel efficient said O’Brien. “They are very large and the fuel economy difference between their full size counterpart isn’t great.”

For that reason they also don’t meet Hyundai’s need to sell more fuel efficient products in order to meet increasingly strict fuel economy targets.

SEE ALSO: Pickup Truck Buyer’s Guide

The Santa Cruz, for example, is designed to use four-cylinder engines and possibly even a diesel that O’Brien said could return fuel economy numbers in the “high 30s.”

The capability of modern pickups far exceeds the needs of most buyers, O’Brien said, and for that reason Hyundai is seriously exploring bringing the Santa Cruz to market. “We’re not expecting to get anybody who’s shopping for a full size pickup, but what we do expect is people that need open bed utility and who haven’t selected one of these other products yet will come to this one and say ‘This is good enough for me. It suits my lifestyle.'”

GALLERY: Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept


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