There are some significant upgrades coming to the Montgomery, Alabama Hyundai factory. The South Korean automaker is throwing its hat in the truck arena and investing $410 million in preparations for the production of the all-new Santa Cruz.
A truck contender is a first for the manufacturer. So how is Hyundai planning to earn its place in the competitive U.S. truck market? The automaker hopes to create a new segment targeting the “urban adventurer.” We had to explore claim to learn more.
What we know about the Hyundai Santa Cruz
The Santa Cruz is finally confirmed, and Hyundai is thrilled to bring this compact pickup truck to the U.S. market. The automaker claims it’s more of an SUV than a truck, but it will have the truck characteristics that enthusiasts expect. It may even resemble a beefier El Camino.
Originally introduced in 2015, Hyundai has since committed to official production with a timeline to begin in 2021. To prepare, the automaker will reconfigure the factory and add 200 employees. With suppliers and logistics employment included, the headcount will increase to 1,000.
Is Hyundai reinventing altogether?
The automaker won’t look to compete with the big three as the Santa Cruz won’t be in the same class as F-150, Sierra, or Ram 1500. Instead, Hyundai wants to create a market niche by targeting millennials who they call “urban adventurers.”
These consumers look for capability and utility in a non-traditional package. In a recent statement, Hyundai claims the Santa Cruz will meet the unspoken needs of the next generation of buyers.
The Hyundai Santa Cruz concepts and renders
Hyundai admits that while they have concepts and renders available now, they have not confirmed the final overall look of the Santa Cruz just yet.
While we have a visual idea based on what they showed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit a few years ago, rumors suggest the production model will look drastically different. We can expect an SUV/light pickup mashup, with the contour and style Hyundai does best.
An AWD or 4WD Hyundai Santa Cruz?
A recent report indicated that the Hyundai Santa Cruz would feature a truck on a ladder-frame chassis, much like the Detroit-based full-size trucks. This may suggest a four-wheel-drive capability. It’s also possible that a variety of cab formats will be available as possible configurations. Again, it’s speculation for now.
Hyundai makes smart moves
Historically, Hyundai held its own and even dominated in many markets with its successful Elantra and Sonata sedans. They hope to adjust their playbook now to accommodate consumer buying preferences in function, capability, and adaptability.
The head of Hyundai Global Design in Namyang, Korea, SangYup Lee said earlier this year that he wants new vehicles to be different and striking — no more Russian dolls. He promised a progressive, more distinctive look. Many call it a smart move in line with recent changes and success.
A compact pickup is a first-ever launch for Hyundai, and we’re excited to learn more as further details are expected later next year.