Although Hyundai has been keen to enter the lucrative compact pick-up segment, the launch of the Santa Cruz – first shown as a concept in 2015 – has been delayed by the Korean firm's increased recent focus on electrification and expansion into new market segments. It will be built alongside the firm's Sonata, Elantra and Santa Fe models in Alabama.
The firm claims the expansion will create 200 new jobs at its Montgomery plant, with the local supplier and logistics industry expected to recruit an additional 1000 employees.
Late last year, Autocar spoke to Luc Donckerwolke, chief design officer at the Hyundai Motor Group. He said: “You’ve seen the [Santa Cruz] pick-up from the 2015 Detroit show, that car is under development at Hyundai”.
When asked how soon it will arrive, he replied: “As soon as possible. From my side [design], it's finished; the process to put it into production is now under way”.
The announcement comes as confirmation that Hyundai is targeting the ‘compact’ truck market, dominated in the US by models such as the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma. A truck in this category has broader global market appeal than a larger, Ford F150-sized model, suggesting the Santa Cruz could come to Europe.
Donckerwolke was recently promoted from being design chief at the group’s luxury brand, Genesis, to heading up all three brands. The former Bentley, Lamborghini and Audi design director replaced Peter Schreyer, who after 12 years as head of design moved to an advisory capacity.