Hyundai Motor Company has finally realized that it needs to change its product line-up in order to grab a bigger share of the US car market. The South Korean auto giant on Thursday announced that it will start production of its Santa Cruz pickup in the United States from 2021.
The decision comes in a bid to capture the growing US market for pickups and trucks. The company said that production of the Santa Cruz will begin at its existing Montgomery, Alabama assembly plant.
"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," said Byungjin Jin, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama.
Hyundai, which calls its new product a compact utility vehicle, however, didn't share any details on the look of the pickup vehicle. The carmaker also said that it will pump in $140 million in its Alabama plant and add 200 jobs to start with as early as 2021.
Their Alabama plant already has 3,000 employees who are engaged in the production of its Elantra and Sonata sedans. Production in that facility started in 2005. Hyundai had initially floated the concept of Santa Cruz way back at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. However, the company hasn't shared further details on the look or the production of the pickup since then.
No an easy road ahead
The South Korean multinational automotive manufacturer's decision to start production of Santa Cruz comes at a time when demand for passenger cars have been on the decline in the United States, with an increasing number of Americans going for pickups, crossovers and SUVs.
Hyundai's performance in the US has been taking a hit with sales of its Elentra and Sonata sedans declining over the past several quarters. Understandably, the company doesn't want to delay much and the decision to produce Santa Cruz in the US is in a bid to capture the pickup vehicle market.
Although, the decision comes a bit late, the only way left for Hyundai to bounce back in the US market is by foraying into the multi-utility vehicle space. However, the journey won't be that easy given that all major carmakers like General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler have already started shunning passenger cars and are focusing more on pickups and SUVs. The return of the Ford Ranger and the 2019 Jeep Gladiator seem to be the biggest threat for Hyundai.