WASHINGTON – Hyundai will invest $410 million to expand its assembly plant in Montgomery, Alabama, where it will turn out a new vehicle, the compact Santa Cruz pickup.
The investment, which will be used to expand the molding and component-making facilities, will directly add 200 jobs in Montgomery, and Hyundai said in a statement that it predicts that its providers will create 1,000 additional jobs to handle the extra business.
Although the firm still has not unveiled the design for the Santa Cruz, the South Korean automaker presented a prototype of the model at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The company has said, however, that the final version of the Santa Cruz will keep the daring new design of the prototype made public at the Detroit auto show as well as its compact size with an eye toward attracting urban buyers.
Hyundai believes that the Santa Cruz will be the first of a new type of all-terrain vehicle combining “capability and utility” with the “versatility” of an open rear cargo area to meet the demands of “a new generation of buyers, especially millennials.”
The Montgomery plant, where the Santa Cruz will be assembled starting in 2021, has a production capacity of 400,000 vehicles per year and opened its doors in 2005.
Production of the Santa Cruz in Montgomery will enable Hyundai to market the vehicle in the United States without having to pay the 25 percent tariff that is imposed on pickup imports.
The market for pickups is one of the largest and most profitable in the US, with the Ford F-150 being the vehicle with the highest sales for some 40 years.
In recent years, manufacturers have begun producing new compact pickup models that were more popular 30 years ago, such as the Chevrolet Colorado.
And last year, Jeep began marketing its first pickup in decades, the Gladiator, to take advantage of the strength of the sector.
When it hits the market in 2021, the Santa Cruz, which is designed using the chassis of a compact all-terrain SUV, will be one of the smallest pickups on the US market.