Hyundai has announced that its as-yet-unrevealed Santa Cruz lifestyle bakkie will go into production in the United States in 2021.

The newcomer, which was revealed in concept form at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, is billed as a “compact utility vehicle”, likely employing a unibody (rather than body-on-frame) construction.

It will be built alongside the Elantra, Sonata and Santa Fe at Hyundai’s assembly plant in Montgomery, Alabama.

The Korean firm says the US plant will require a $410-million expansion to support the addition of this new vehicle.

“Bringing the Santa Cruz to HMMA [Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama] demonstrates that Hyundai Motor Company is confident our more than 3 000 team members are ready to build a quality crossover for the US market,” said Byungjin Jin, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama.

Hyundai says the new Santa Cruz will target buyers who want “all the traditional attributes of a compact utility vehicle, but need the day-to-day versatility of an open bed”.

In February 2019, a high-ranking design executive at Hyundai said the production version of the Santa Cruz bakkie has "a lot more character” than 2015’s concept.