The Santa Cruz was first introduced at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.
Ever since it first debuted in 2015, we’ve been wondering when — or even if — Hyundai was actually going to build the Santa Cruz crossover. Despite repeated assurances it is still coming, we didn’t have much information to go on, until now. Hyundai announced Wednesday it would build the Santa Cruz at its U.S. assembly plant in Montgomery, Alabama. The plant currently builds the Santa Fe crossover as well as the Sonata and Elantra sedans.
Hyundai doesn’t bill the Santa Cruz as a truck, but rather a “compact utility vehicle”. In fact, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama president and CEO Byungjin Jin refers to it as a crossover. He said of the recent announcement, “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.” We never were in doubt that it would be a unibody design like the Honda Ridgeline, but Hyundai is going one step further by saying its crossover creates a new segment “that successfully combines capability and utility to meet the unspoken needs of a new generation of buyers, especially millennials.”
To that end, it’s likely the production Santa Cruz will take on styling and powertrains akin to the Santa Fe crossover. That would mean a slightly different front end design, as well as a small-displacement turbocharged engine. Perhaps Hyundai will fit a V6 option, but no powertrain information is currently available. There was a small turbodiesel in the concept, but seeing as the company dropped it for the production Santa Fe, it’s unlikely we’ll see a diesel Santa Cruz here.
Expanding the Alabama plant
To accommodate Santa Cruz production, Hyundai will undergo a $410 million expansion project. The company claims it will — directly and indirectly — create 1,200 new jobs, either tied to the plant or through suppliers. Hyundai says it will directly hire 200 people to work the additional space in stamping, welding and parts processing areas. Throughout the Montgomery region, local suppliers may create around 1,000 jobs to support building the Santa Cruz.
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama was opened in 2005. In its 14-1/2 years in operation, it has produced 4.5 million vehicles for the U.S. and global markets. With other manufacturers in the region from Honda and Toyota to Mercedes-Benz, Alabama is the fifth largest car and truck-producing state in the U.S.
While we’re waiting for production model photos to come down, check out TFLtruck’s original coverage from way back in 2015: