South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor will start making its Santa Cruz pickup trucks at its U.S. factory in 2021, with an investment of $410 million (£320.41 million), as it seeks a foothold in the popular, but highly competitive, segment led by U.S. rivals.
The Alabama factory expansion was announced as President Donald Trump is expected this week to push back a self-imposed deadline on whether to put tariffs of up to 25% on imported cars and parts.
Hyundai has invested more than $1.1 billion in the Montgomery region in the last 18 months, with the latest move expected to add 200 new jobs and 1,000 people employed by regional suppliers and logistics companies.
The factory, which began production in 2005, was Hyundai’s first assembly and manufacturing plant in the United States and now has 2,900 full-time and 500 part-time employees.
Hyundai, whose late response to the SUV market took a heavy toll on its sales in the United States, China and other markets, has expanded its SUV offerings in recent years.
The Santa Cruz pickup truck, introduced as a concept vehicle four years ago, will be its first for the U.S. market, joining three models – the Sonata, Elantra sedans and the Santa Fe SUV, now made in its sole U.S. factory.
Last year, the United States and South Korea agreed to revise a trade pact sharply criticized by Trump, striking a deal to extend U.S. tariffs on Korean-made pickup trucks by 20 years, until 2041.