Hyundai has just launched production of the of the all-new 2022 Santa Cruz compact crossover pickup at their assembly plant in Montgomery, Alabama. This means those on the early reservation roles can start getting excited their new groundbreaking vehicles are on the way soon.
The new Santa Cruz will share the assembly line with several Hyundai models built at the same flexible assembly plant including the Sonata and Elantra sedans and SUVs Santa Fe and Tucson.
The plant features its own in-house steel stamping plant where the major chassis structure and exterior body panels are made on site. The side panels of the Santa Cruz are stamped in a single sheet making them stronger, lighter and less susceptible to flex and corrosion by eliminating multiple seams.
Sophisticated robotics do the core work of assembling the underlying body structure, setting panels accurately into place and taking care of all the spot welds in a way that is consistent vehicle after vehicle.
Once all the panels and pieces have been quality checked, the whole set is sent to the deep dip of electro coating for primer where every single crevice and corner of the steel is coated. From there it is speed dried for paint.
Sealant is applied to several areas of the structure both by robots and human hands to assure that seams and strategic spots are water tight. Completed bodies then heat to the automated paint shop where robots provide consistent and sanitary painting quality.
After another speed dry, the painted bodies are given a thorough once over for any finish imperfections by workers before electrical components, wiring harnesses, sound proofing, door hardware, and interior assemblies begin to be installed. You will note the bright colored plastic shields laid over the fresh bodywork, this is to protect the paint from scratching or dings during the assembly process.
Across the campus the Montgomery assembly plant also builds all of the engines for the Santa Cruz on site including both the 2.5-liter base engine and 2.5-liter turbo. This is an uncommon feature of this assembly plant as most have their engines shipped in from other places.
From there the engines and transmissions are married to chassis sub frames and installed to the bodies as finished components along with suspension, axles and brake assemblies. Other large components like radiator supports and bed liners are installed as well.
In the trim shop, much of the interior components are installed by hand through the aid of several machines to reduce lifting effort and speed proper placement such as the dash assembly and seats. Each vehicle’s seating, dash and interior trims are staged and ready depending on the options for that individual vehicle.
Automated machines install tires and wheels, torquing down all five lug-nuts simultaneously. This process takes only a few seconds. One of the last items installed are the finished door assemblies complete with glass, lift motors and door panel trims.
A few last checks for fit and finish at the end of the line and each Santa Cruz is sent out the door for staging to be shipped. A few are taken out to an on-site test track for quality assurance, put through a battery of simulations to make sure there aren’t any production issues that need to be addressed factory wide.
The all-new 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz now in production should begin arriving at North American dealerships by late summer 2021.