Hyundai Motor Co. will invest $410 million to expand its Alabama plant in preparation to build the Santa Cruz pickup — a vehicle highly anticipated by dealers — with production starting in 2021.
In a statement, the automaker said the project will add 1,200 new and indirect jobs at the Montgomery plant, which builds the Elantra and Sonata sedans and the Santa Fe crossover.
“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,” Byungjin Jin, CEO of Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, said in the statement.
Hyundai has yet to reveal the production version of the Santa Cruz, first shown in concept form at the 2015 Detroit auto show. Brand executives have said the production model will remain true to the concept’s funky design. It will target city-dwelling millennials who can’t fit full-size pickups into tighter parking spots.
“It’ll be a very versatile vehicle,” Michael O’Brien, vice president of product, corporate and digital planning for Hyundai’s U.S. unit, told Bloomberg in July. “That has the promise of creating a whole new class of buyers.”
U.S. production of the Santa Cruz seemed inevitable, since Hyundai would need to manufacture the truck in North America to avoid the 25 percent tariff on imported trucks and the majority of sales will be in the U.S.
“It would have to be made in North America,” Bloomberg quoted O’Brien as saying.
Hyundai’s Alabama plant, which began production in 2005, has the capacity to produce nearly 400,000 vehicles annually.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.