Diesel Engine May Be Next Step for Hyundai

Hyundai is showing a whole new side at the ongoing Detroit auto show with its latest concept: the Santa Cruz Crossover Truck.

Not only will the Santa Cruz be Hyundai’s first pickup – if it advances to production – but it will also house the company’s first diesel engine for the U.S.

Mike O’Brien, Hyundai’s vice president of corporate and product planning, said that both crossovers and open-bed vehicles are gaining in popularity. And a diesel engine’s intrinsic qualities make it the ideal powertrain for this type of vehicle.

“The diesel is the most promising because of the fuel economy it delivers,” said O’Brien. “It best matches in our research of what these customers are looking for. Outstanding fuel economy, good torque and good driveability.”

SEE ALSO: Audi’s Q7 SUV Combines Diesel With Plug-In Hybrid

The Santa Cruz concept is powered by a 190-horsepower 2.0-liter diesel engine. Hyundai estimates a fuel economy in the “high 30 mph range.”

Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Concept

Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Concept

While Hyundai hasn’t set a release date for the Santa Cruz, the company notes that the concept model is beyond the experimenting stage.

“The engineering feasibility work has been done,” O’Brien said. “This particular platform could have the diesel shown which is in production today.”

Following market trends helped inspire the smaller footprint of the Santa Cruz, but Hyundai’s move towards diesel is also fueled by its need to meet CAFE requirements.

“We won’t do that with the current product mix,” said O’Brien of the necessity for diesel powertrains.

Hyundai has been making additional strides in the alternative-fuel segment in the last few months. Wards Autos recently presented the hydrogen-powered Tucson FCV with its esteemed 10Best Engine Award for 2015. Earlier this month, Hyundai also debuted its Sonata Hybrid and Sonata Plug-In Hybrid. The Tucson FCV is available now, and Hyundai expects both new Sonatas to be available later this year.

 SEE ALSO: Hyundai Unveils New Sonata Hybrid and Sonata Plug-in Hybrid