In an announcement released earlier this week, Hyundai revealed that it is building a production version of the Santa Cruz pickup, and will be adding the model as part of a massive expansion for the company’s Montgomery, Alabama assembly plant.
When the Santa Cruz eventually enters production, it will be built alongside the Santa Fe SUV, as well as the Elantra and Sonata sedans at the plant, with Hyundai planning to formally start Santa Cruz production in 2021. To help achieve this, the company is embarking on a $410 million dollar expansion of the plant to help prepare it for Santa Cruz production. This includes extra space in the stamping, welding, and paint departments, along with additional space in the parts processing department. All told, these improvements will help create 200 new jobs at the plant, while local suppliers and other entities that work with HMNA are projected to add an additional 1,000 jobs both in Montgomery, as well as the broader River Region. This would help add some economic muscle to the area, and allow Alabama to enhance its manufacturing credentials.
“Bringing the Santa Cruz to HMMA demonstrates that Hyundai Motor Company is confident our more than 3,000 Team Members are ready to build a quality crossover for the U.S. market,” said Byungjin Jin, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama.
Hyundai for its part is not calling the Santa Cruz a pickup and instead refers to it as a “compact utility vehicle.” While we are still processing that in our collective minds, Hyundai elaborated further explaining that the Santa Cruz is designed for buyers that want all the traditional benefits of a compact utility vehicle, but also need the benefits provided by an open bed. The company did not release images of the new Santa Cruz in its release (preferring instead to focus the spotlight on the assembly plant) but with the Santa Cruz concept making its debut back in 2015, look for a significant chunk of the concept’s core DNA to carryover intact. We suspect that the Santa Cruz could borrow some tricks and the platform of the Hyundai Palisade to help give the truck the size it needs to be able to hit some of Hyundai’s targets in regards to functionality and ergonomics. The platform could also allow the Santa Cruz to bring over a few of its novel features to production including its novel extendable rear bed.
Look for the production Santa Cruz to make its appearance in time for the 2022 model year, with Hyundai most likely releasing more information on the model in late 2020.