|Representatives from Hyundai Motor Group, Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and Fortescue Metals Group (FMC) sign a memorandum of understanding Thursday to jointly develop innovative hydrogen technologies. Courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group|
By Kim Hyun-bin
COVID-19 has taken a toll on global automakers, but that has not stopped Hyundai Motor Group from taking the initiative to invest in research and development for future cars, hoping to become a leading player in the future industry and better prepare for the post-COVID era.
Last year, Hyundai announced its 2025 strategy, revealing a plan to inject 20 trillion won into future businesses. In the autonomous vehicle field, the carmaker plans to invest 9.7 trillion won within the next six years.
To speed up the process, the country's leading carmaker has been inking partnerships and joint ventures with foreign companies with specialization in the field.
Hyundai Motor Group joined hands with Ireland-based self-driving technology startup Aptive to establish Motional. Each company invested $2 billion.
Hyundai is pinning high hopes on Motional and has sent key personnel from the company's autonomous department to the newly established entity.
According to Hyundai, Jang Woong-jun, vice president and head of the Autonomous Driving Center, will also hold the position of chief strategy officer (CSO) of Motional.
In 2017, Jang gained the spotlight after being promoted to an executive position at age 37. He has led efforts in autonomous research and establishing the joint venture with Aptive.
"Jang will concurrently hold the position in Hyundai and as the CSO of Motional," a Hyundai official said. "The dispatch of key autonomous driving-related personnel to Motional is to create synergy for robotaxis. We will be focusing on developing autonomous driving vehicles."
Starting this year, Motional is scheduled to test fully autonomous vehicle systems and technologies and plans to supply the system to robotaxis and other mobility businesses in 2022.
Hyundai says it will provide its combustion engine vehicles, electric vehicles (EVs) and hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) to the joint firm for research and road tests.
Hyundai's initial goal was to develop a Level 4 autonomous vehicle by 2024, but the plan was advanced to 2022 after the establishment of Motional, with the company aiming to become the world's first to release such technology.
According to the Society of Automotive Engineers International, there are five levels of driving automation. At Level 4, a vehicle can drive itself under limited conditions. At Level 5, the automated driving features can operate in any conditions.
Hyundai Motor is also scheduled to unveil a next-generation EV battery platform next year through a partnership with U.S. EV company Canoo.
The two companies plan to expand the battery platform on the bottom of the EV, which will open up opportunities to develop diverse concepts and designs for the vehicles.
Starting with the IONIQ5, set to be released next year, Hyundai plans to unveil three other EV lineups by 2024, with the goal of creating 560,000 annual vehicle sales by 2025.
On a related note, Hyundai inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the world's fourth-largest iron ore production company Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) to develop hydrogen production technologies and products, Thursday.
The three companies will jointly develop innovative hydrogen technologies as well as cooperate to establish hydrogen supply infrastructure.
"The innovative hydrogen supply infrastructure and technology will help vitalize the hydrogen economy in Korea and Australia," said Chi Young-cho, president of Hyundai Motor Group. "Through the MOU we will form the foundation for clean hydrogen infrastructure."