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Hyundai Santa Cruz Compact Pickup Could Arrive in 2020

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Hyundai Santa Cruz compact pickup truck

Hyundai’s Santa Cruz “crossover truck” concept from 2015

Compact pickup trucks have pretty much disappeared from the U.S. market, but Hyundai is hoping to reverse that trend with the Santa Cruz.

The automaker confirmed last month that it expects to release the Santa Cruz “crossover truck” sometime in 2020 or 2021.

The Santa Cruz has been in the works for years. A concept version was unveiled at the Detroit auto show in 2015. It’s not clear yet how closely the production version will resemble the concept, which included an expandable sliding bed and a bold, offbeat design. Although the concept had a two-door configuration, the production version is expected to be a four-door.

Since few compact pickups are sold in the U.S., the Santa Cruz raises some uncomfortable questions for Hyundai. Will the demand be there?

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Hyundai is hoping the answer will be “yes.” It’s goal is to target young, urban buyers who want pickups but can’t afford the increasingly expensive mid-size or full-size models that currently dominate the market. For Hyundai to appeal to these buyers, it would likely have to price the Santa Cruz well below $20,000.

One reason that compact pickups have disappeared from the U.S. market is a tariff known as the chicken tax, which targets light trucks. Although foreign automakers still manufacture plenty of these models, it’s rarely profitable to import them to the U.S.

Thanks to the chicken tax, Hyundai probably wouldn’t be able to import the Santa Cruz from South Korea. Instead, it’s likely that Hyundai will end up building the truck at its plant in Alabama. Another possible option: producing the Santa Cruz at Georgia and Mexico plants operated by Hyundai partner Kia.

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News Source: CNBC