Hyundai Motor Co said on Thursday it will begin production of the Santa Fe Sport model at its Montgomery, Alabama, plant in the early summer as it seeks to increase supply for the hot-selling crossover SUV segment of the U.S. market.
The Santa Fe Sport, a five-passenger crossover model, will be one of three models made at the plant, joining the Sonata and Elantra sedans.
Production targets for the three models will be determined in the coming months, but the plant's capacity will remain at 400,000 vehicles a year, the company said in a statement.
Crossover vehicles, with their higher profile and utility have taken share of the U.S. market from traditional sedans, and they drive more of a car than traditional SUVs. Crossovers are based on a car chassis and traditional SUVs on a truck chassis.
The Santa Fe Sport seats five passengers, putting it in the small crossover category, the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. auto market.
“The new production will help us meet the growing demand for one of our most popular products,” said David Zuchowski, president of Hyundai North America.
The two-row Santa Fe Sport for the U.S. market has been built in South Korea, Hyundai's home. The larger Santa Fe crossover, which has three rows and seats six or seven passengers, will continue to be produced at a plant in Georgia of its corporate sibling, Kia Motors Co.
In 2015, Santa Fe Sport sales were constrained in part because of production capacity. Its sales rose 6 percent to 86,433 last year, while sales for the Santa Fe rose 19 percent to 31,701 vehicles.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Bernard Orr)