Hyundai has gotten the green light to build a compact pickup truck similar to the Santa Cruz concept that Korean automaker first showed at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show two years ago. The company’s vice president of product planning, Michael O’Brien, told Reuters that the parent company has given the go ahead for the project, which could see a production version on U.S. roads as soon as next year.

The move is part of a larger effort to increase Hyundai’s portfolio in the truck and crossover SUV segments. The Santa Cruz will be followed a year later by an all-new 3-row 7-passenger Santa Fe as well as the subcompact Kona crossover SUV showed earlier this year. Also in the pipeline is a reworked Tucson slated for 2020.

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While the handsome Santa Cruz concept featured a transversely mounted 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel, it’s probably a sure bet that the production version will have a conventional gasoline engine given the fallout from the VW diesel emission scandal. Also, there is some debate on whether the vehicle will be a car-based small truck with offering front- and all-wheel drive similar to the Honda Ridgeline, or feature more convention pickup construction of a body on frame with a longitudinal mounted engine with rear- or all-wheel drive. If it’s the latter, the vehicle will probably be larger than the concept and positioned more closely to the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier and upcoming Ford ranger.

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