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Hyundai Santa Cruz concept still in limbo

by Ronan Glon

If approved, the truck would take 32 months to launch.

Hyundai still hasn't decided whether to compete against the Honda Ridgeline with a leisure-oriented pickup built on a unibody platform. It previewed what its entry into the small segment could look like with the Santa Cruz concept (pictured) in 2015.

Hyundai CEO Wonhee Lee told industry trade journal that the company's engineers have started the basic engineering process but he hasn't approved the project yet. If it receives the green light, it would take about 32 months to launch, which means we won't see it until 2021 at the earliest.

"It's a new segment, so we don't have any data to give us a kind of confidence. But we believe we can create a new segment for pickup trucks in the U.S. market," Lee explained.

The yet-unnamed truck would likely share its platform with the next-generation Tucson. Lee added Hyundai would 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.

Hyundai may have more competition than it initially anticipated if it finally decides to enter the 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, too.