In 2015, Hyundai first debuted the concept for an all-new compact pickup truck which it called the Santa Cruz. While many people may have forgotten that the automaker had its eyes on a pickup, Hyundai itself didn't and now it will not only sell its fabled truck on American soil, where it will also build the new model.
The South Korean automaker announced its plans for a $410 million investment in its Montgomery, Alabama assembly plant on Wednesday, a move which marks Hyundai's first deep dive into the compact pickup market. In all, it’s a small slice of the truck segment which other manufacturers have all but ignored in recent years.
Beginning in 2021, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) will add the Santa Cruz pickup to its growing portfolio of U.S.-produced vehicles. At the same factory, Hyundai currently manufactures its Santa Fe SUV, as well as two sedans, the Elantra and Sonata.
“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 Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama President and CEO Byungjin Jin.
Hyundai says that in addition to its monetary investment, it also expects to add around 200 jobs directly related to production of the Santa Cruz. Parts suppliers and logistic companies are estimated to add an additional 1,000 support positions.
Sadly, Hyundai hasn't shown us another photo of what it envisions the Santa Cruz to be. The brand says that it is actively targeting a "new generation of buyers, especially Millennials.” Perhaps its final product will be fairly close to the ultra-modern concept it debuted, hopefully including its razor-sharp edges and vibrant accents as well.
One might also find it interesting that Hyundai didn't use the word "pickup" in its official press release—at all. In fact, it has avoided that term for some time, historically calling the concept a "crossover truck" and "compact utility vehicle.” We're not sure if Hyundai is trying to avoid the backlash of body-on-frame purists denouncing the vehicle's viability or if it hopes to open the market to otherwise non-truck buyers.
Either way, we're happy that a new compact pickup option is coming to U.S. consumers in the near future.