What Is It?
Neither of these two cars are new, since the Santa Cruz debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show and the Tucson Fuel Cell has been around long enough that we had a chance to drive it when it was here in Boston. But Chicago is a big market, and it’s a chance to show off both cars for a different audience.
Why Should You Care?
You should care about the Santa Cruz because it’s — in our opinion — the best kind of concept car. It’s not something so outlandish that you know it’ll never reach production, but it’s far out enough to get people talking. Whether you get the concept or not, Hyundai leaves a lot of money on the table not having a pickup truck. And now that trucks like the Toyota Tacoma and the Chevrolet Colorado are essentially what full-size trucks used to be up until the mid-2000s, there’s a ton of room for a real compact pickup truck to make some money.
It’s definitely not something you’re going to tow your boat with, considering its abbreviated cargo box and 2.0-liter turbo diesel powertrain delivering 190 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. If Hyundai can keep the dimensions small, the concept might have a shot at becoming the most fuel efficient compact truck in the entire segment, a goal that’s not going to be difficult to reach.
You should be thinking about the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell because of what it represents. It’s potentially the future of transportation, and unlike most of the fuel cell cars out there, it doesn’t look like something out of the Jetsons. It’s a real vehicle, built with real people in mind. Only a handful have been sold, but that’s not keeping Hyundai from building them. It’s a part of how a manufacturer like Hyundai reaches the federally mandated 54.5 mile per gallon target in 2025.
When Does It Go On Sale?
The Santa Cruz is a pure concept at the moment. We’re certainly hoping it gets built. The Tucson Fuel Cell is on sale in California right now, and Hyundai may be rolling it out in other regions as infrastructure comes on line.