Hyundai's self driving car masters the oh-so-human roundabout

OF THE MANY vehicles that drove the 120 miles from Seoul to Pyeongchang for the Winter Olympics, one Hyundai stood out. Not because it runs on hydrogen, though that’s unusual enough. This Nexo crossover did the cross-country trip all on its own. And just like the athletes, the car was there to show off its skills for the crowds. Along with two just like it, plus a pair of autonomous Genesis G80 sedans, it spent the Games giving demonstration rides to fans.

Those rides took passengers on a 4.3-mile loop around the Olympic Stadium, on a route that included a roundabout. That’s notable because for a fully autonomous vehicle (with a human backup in the driver’s seat), such traffic circles are beguiling.

“Roundabouts have sharper turns and require both lane changing and avoiding traffic accidents simultaneously,” says Hyundai research engineer Byoungkwang Kim. They can be prim and orderly, or lawless and confusing. More than intersections governed by traffic lights or even stop signs, they require a human touch.

To navigate this treacherous ring, Hyundai deployed its most advanced software controls yet, processing data from four radar units and six lidar laser sensors at the front and rear of the vehicle, along with cameras to help look for obstacles and read lane markings and signs. As the Nexo approached the roundabout, a display above the glove box indicated it was tracking all the vehicles within 100 meters, in every direction—no head on a swivel or peering at mirrors necessary. In moderate traffic, it waited until it had a large gap to make its entry, then moved with precision and at a normal speed. It stopped once, when another car threatened to enter the circle without yielding.

Other bits of the drive highlighted another side of the Nexo’s skillful humanity. Hills can often mask visibility and confuse sensors if the changes are sudden—and a town hosting the Winter Olympics has plenty of hills. “The challenge was to develop lidar applicable for constant and drastic degree changes on the road driven,” Kim says.

His team also programmed the car to replicate the way humans actually drive on hills—decelerating on downhill and accelerating on climbs, instead of holding the same speed with robotic vigilance. The Nexo topped out at about 30 mph on the suburban roads, but can cruise on the highway at 70 mph.

Back in town, the Nexo used a 5G data connection to receive traffic light information from the local infrastructure network, easier and quicker than relying on the car’s sensors to read the signals, Kim says. The car can merge with traffic, maintain its awareness in tunnels where there’s no GPS signal, navigate toll booths, change lanes on its own, and react properly to emergency vehicles. Human traffic controllers, not so much—so when we got close to downtown, where there were many traffic cops moderating the flow of Olympic traffic, Kim took over the controls from the computer and brought us into the Hyundai demonstration lot.

The 5G network connection enables another Hyundai system, Home Connect. Passengers in the rear seats can access and control devices in their residences, turning on the lights and heat or A/C before they get home, or locking the doors after they leave. It has an Alexa-like feature called Assistant Chat, as well as a health-monitoring system called Wellness Car that can monitor stress level, heart rates, and “mood,” and even set up a video call with a health consultant. For fun, it offers the karaoke application Everysing.

The hydrogen-powered Nexo, Hyundai’s third-generation fuel cell vehicle, can go 370 miles between fill-ups and accelerate to 62 mph in 9.2 seconds. The non-autonomous versions of the car should appear in the Los Angeles area later this year. Hyundai expects to commercialize its self-driving tech in cities around 2021, and have it going everywhere by 2030. And everywhere has a lot of roundabouts in it.

Source: Wired

PowerSteering: J.D. Power 2018 Hyundai Tucson Review

Crossover SUVs (CUVs) are swarming American roadways, with no signs of letting up. Especially on the more affordable end of the spectrum, the segment is expanding at a seemingly exponential rate as car buyers ditch sedans in favor of more practical CUVs.

Until its new Kona subcompact crossover arrives in the spring of 2018, Hyundai straddles the line between tiny and compact CUVs with the Tucson. Bigger than a Honda HR-V, but smaller than a Honda CR-V, the 2018 Hyundai Tucson aims to be the automotive equivalent of a “just right” solution to your Goldilocks-style requirements and preferences.

For this review, J.D. Power evaluated a 2018 Hyundai Tucson Value Edition equipped with all-wheel drive and floor mats. The price came to $29,025, including the $950 destination charge.

What Owners Say

Before we discuss the results of our evaluation of the Hyundai Tucson, it is helpful to understand who buys this Small SUV, and what they like most and least about their Tucsons.

More men are attracted to Tucson ownership compared to the small SUV segment as a whole (47% vs. 45%), and they are older in terms of median age (58 years vs. 54 years). Generationally, just 33% of Tucson owners are members of Generations X, Y, or Z, compared to 45% of Small SUV owners. Median annual household income, however, is about the same ($80,714 vs. $80,425). 

Tucson owners rarely deviate from all Small SUV owners when it comes to sentiments related to vehicle ownership. They are less likely to agree that they prefer to buy a vehicle from a domestic company (38% vs. 52%), but that is not surprising. Tucson owners are also less likely to agree that they prefer a vehicle that stands out from the crowd (62% vs. 67%) and are more likely to agree that a vehicle is just a way of getting from place to place (50% vs. 45%).

People who own the Tucson are more likely to strongly agree that they avoid vehicles with high maintenance costs (71% vs. 65%), their choice in a Small SUV perhaps reflective of Hyundai’s comprehensive warranty and roadside assistance plans. Tucson owners are also less likely to pay more for a vehicle that is environmentally friendly (48% vs. 55%).

Owners report that their favorite things about the Tucson are (in descending order) the exterior styling, interior design and seats in a tie, driving dynamics, and visibility and safety. Owners indicate that their least favorite things about the Tucson are (in descending order) the storage and space, climate system, infotainment system, engine/transmission, and fuel economy.

What Our Expert Says

In the sections that follow, our expert provides her own perceptions about how the Hyundai Tucson measures up in each of the 10 categories that comprise the 2017 APEAL Study.

Exterior

The Tucson’s exterior appearance is the number one thing that satisfies owners, and it’s for good reason. Hyundai’s comparatively mature and sophisticated design lacks the funky weirdness embraced by most subcompact crossovers, giving the Tucson a grown-up appearance. Handsome without overtly seeking attention, pleasing many while offending few, the Tucson is a good-looking CUV with upscale appeal.

Interior

With its black-on-black interior color, my test vehicle’s cabin seemed plain and minimalistic in almost every way. Silver plastic trim surrounding the vents and some of the other controls is the only relief from the monotony. Some people prefer this uncluttered look, with no seams around the dashboard top or any variances in textures, but I’m not among them. Choose a gray or beige interior if you seek greater contrast. 

While I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the interior materials in Hyundais I’ve driven as of late, the Tucson’s cabin clearly didn’t reach for higher aspirations than what its price point would suggest. The plastics looked inexpensive and felt insubstantial, and several controls suggested an unbecoming flimsiness. As such, the Tucson is competitive with subcompact CUVs when it comes to refinement of interior materials, rather than traditional compact models.

Seats

Up front, the Tucson’s seats are flat and mildly bolstered, with decent cushioning. Heated cloth seats are always a pleasant surprise, too, and if you get Gray or Beige cloth, it features stain- and odor-resistant fabric. 

I was able to find a good driving position thanks to the 8-way power adjustable seat, but my long-limbed husband couldn’t get the right combination of height and distance from the steering wheel that he prefers. The test vehicle’s front passenger’s seat lacked a seat height adjustment, supplying too low a position. Choose SEL Plus or Limited trim to obtain an 8-way power adjustable front passenger’s seat.

In the rear seat, there’s good room for two people, but three will have a hard time fitting. Thigh support is decent, and features like an available panoramic sunroof and rear air conditioning vents should prove appealing. 

Climate Control System

Upgrade to SEL Plus, Value Edition, or Limited trim, and a dual-zone climate control system comes standard. 

The test vehicle had this setup, the temperature controls comprised of two knobs with buttons for other functions arrayed between them. Everything was clearly marked and easy to use, and the Tucson includes a Clean Air ionizer feature. In my experience, I’ve found this fairly ineffective in controlling odors, whether they come from outside or from my children.

During testing under mild weather conditions, the system had no trouble warming or cooling the cabin as was needed. 

Infotainment System

My Value Edition test vehicle didn’t have all the bells and whistles that come with upper trim levels, so I could not assess the navigation system or the Infinity premium sound system that are included with SEL Plus and Limited trim.

It did, however, have a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, providing access to navigation and communication through my iPhone and data plan. Also, the standard sound system’s quality was good enough for me. Therefore, I didn’t feel the upgrade available in top trims was necessary. 

Better yet, traditional power/volume and tuning knobs flank the large main menu buttons under the screen, and everything is intuitive and easy to use while driving. Hyundai also provides SEL Plus and Limited trims with free Blue Link subscription services for three full years.

Frankly, I don’t know why so many Tucson owners appear to be unhappy with their infotainment systems. I think it’s great.

Storage and Space

If you choose a small vehicle, you’re going to get a small cargo area, so I’m a bit confused as to why Tucson owners give their SUVs middling marks for storage. 

While it can’t match compact crossovers like the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, or Toyota RAV4 in terms of space (get the Santa Fe Sport if you want something that size), I thought the Tucson’s cargo area was both roomy and flexible. Behind the rear seats, the Tucson provides 31 cu.-ft. of volume. Fold the rear seats to access 61.9 cu.-ft. of space.

My test vehicle was equipped with a hands-free power opening rear liftgate that activates when you stand near the rear of the Tucson with the key on your person. It’s a convenient feature if your hands and arms are full of parcels and bags, and you don’t have to wave your feet around in an awkward dance, which can be downright dangerous on ice and snow. 

Inside, Hyundai provides storage bins and cubbies throughout the cabin, and while they weren’t big, there were enough of them to keep small belongings in check.

Visibility and Safety

Based on my time with the Tucson, the only noteworthy visibility issue related to the SUV’s thick rear roof pillars that make it harder to see out. 

Good thing, then, that my Tucson had a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist. That latter feature is relatively new to Americans, sounding an alarm when a vehicle is approaching from behind at a comparatively rapid rate of speed, which would make a lane change unwise. Hyundai includes this feature with SEL Plus, Value Edition, and Limited trim.

In crash testing, the Tucson earns a “Top Safety Pick” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a 5-star overall rating from the NHTSA. In order to help prevent a collision from occurring in the first place, an automatic emergency braking system with pedestrian detection is available for the Tucson, but you need to get the Limited trim and upgrade it with the Ultimate package.

Engine/Transmission

J.D. Power data shows that aside from fuel economy, the Tucson’s drivetrain is the source of the greatest dissatisfaction with ownership, and I think I know why.

The standard engine is a relatively underpowered 164-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is an option.

Upgrade to Value Edition or Limited trim, and you’ll get a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder supplying 175 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s satisfactory, but it comes only with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT), which can cause consternation if you’re unfamiliar with a DCT’s quirks. Personally, I’m not a fan of DCTs, as they tend to lurch and behave less smoothly than traditional automatics.

Front-drive is standard with the turbocharged engine. My test vehicle had the optional all-wheel-drive system, but as with most crossovers the front wheels get the power the majority of the time. Hyundai gives you a “Lock” mode that distributes the power evenly for improved traction in the slippery stuff. 

The turbocharged Tucson does feel livelier than many competitors, but delivery of that power isn’t as linear as you’d expect. Turbo lag is evident in the lower end of the rev range and the DCT is characteristically hesitant upon launch, so you’ll have to adjust to its unique traits in order to find happiness. 

Fuel Economy

One reason Hyundai uses a DCT with the turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder is to maximize fuel economy. Does it do the trick? Not according to my experience.

The EPA says that a turbocharged Tucson with AWD should get about 24 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the open road, with a combined average of 25 mpg. I got 23.3 on my test loop, which is comprised of various types of driving conditions. 

Usually, test vehicles match or exceed their combined rating on my loop. In this case, the Tucson Value Edition didn’t even hit its city number. Therefore, its no surprise that Tucson owners complain the most about their car’s spendthrift ways. Hyundai needs to do better with regard to delivering on its promises.

Driving Dynamics

Composed and zippy around town, the Tucson delivers a smooth ride and nimble urban handling. You will notice quite a bit of road and engine noise, especially on the highway, but vehicles in this category tend to be quite loud inside.

Though Hyundai doesn’t tout the Tucson to be an athletically inclined crossover, it more than holds its own in a set of twisties. Body motion is well controlled and the driving dynamics inspire confidence. Unfortunately, the experience lacks engagement, as the steering feels a little loose and sloppy while the brakes lack natural progression (although they are very effective and exhibited zero fade.)

Tucson owners may disagree with me, but nothing about driving it makes you succumb to the siren call of a road trip. This is an automotive appliance, wrapped in a good-looking package.

Final Impressions

Crossover vehicles are here to stay, and its little wonder, as they deliver all the advantages of a car combined along with the cargo space and versatility of a traditional SUV. 

The 2018 Hyundai Tucson does a good job of straddling various permutations of the small CUV, and thanks to appealing design, modern technologies, impressive safety ratings, and affordable pricing, it competes handily in the little crossover category. Plus, like every Hyundai, the Tucson gives owners peace of mind thanks to generous warranty and roadside assistance coverage.

With the Hyundai Nexo, water produced by the car can be used to drink

Commuters could soon be taken to work in a driverless car which is so clean they could relax on the journey with a cup of tea brewed using water from the tailpipe.

The state-of-the-art Hyundai Nexo is a crossover SUV vehicle which runs on electrical energy generated by hydrogen fuel cells. 

Unlike traditional combustion engines, hydrogen cars don’t emit carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide so its only by-product is water vapour. The water produced by Nexo could even be stored and used later to pour on plants or even used to make a cup of tea or coffee.  

Hyundai has also just showcased its ‘level 4’ autonomous driving technology using Nexo as the test bed. This is when a vehicle performs all safety-critical driving functions and monitors roadway conditions for an entire trip. On this occasion a fleet of Nexo vehicles self-drove 118 miles from Seoul to Pyeongchang, home of the Winter Olympics 2018, in South Korea.

The cars safely reached speeds of almost 70 mph on the route, which included built up areas and open roads. This is the first time in the world that this level of autonomy has been achieved with fuel cell electric vehicles. It is expected that, by 2021, Nexo will be available with level 4 autonomous capability.

 

From launch, the Nexo will feature semi-autonomous technology such as Lane Following Assist and Highway Driving Assist.

The 'Lane Following Assist’ is a piece of technology which automatically adjusts steering to keep the car in the centre of its lane. 

When paired with Hyundai’s ‘Highway Driving Assist’, which utilises sensors and map data to ensure safe operation as well as automatically adjusting speed in limited environments, drivers will be able to travel long distances with greater ease and improved safety.

Hyundai has also fitted the Nexo with a blind spot view monitor. Cameras broadcast both sides of the vehicle which can’t be viewed using wing mirrors, meaning the driver doesn't need to take their focus off the road ahead. This is an industry first.

When you get to work, the Nexo can then autonomously park itself at the touch of a button if you are inside or outside the vehicle.

The Hyundai Nexo will make its European debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show.

Tony Whitehorn, Hyundai UK’s President and CEO, said: “A car with autonomous abilities, that could have the future potential to power household appliances, and that has a by-product pure enough to water your plants with.

“Hyundai Nexo is our innovative new fuel cell electric vehicle that, while being sustainable, requires very little adjustment to driver habit with a re-fuelling time of just a few minutes and a range extensive enough to get you all the way from London to Sheffield and back again on a full tank of hydrogen.”

Hyundai has been one of the driving forces behind hydrogen-fuelled cars, having built its first fuel cell engine in 1998.

In 2013, Hyundai launched the ix35 Fuel Cell, which was the first hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric production car, and the Nexo is the first semi-autonomous ‘FCEV’.

In the UK, the cost of hydrogen is comparable to diesel and petrol so it would cost around £60 to fully refuel a Nexo, which has a range of approximately 500 miles.

A hydrogen fuel cell tank can be filled in between three and five minutes at dedicated Hydrogen Refuelling Stations which are currently being added to standard refuelling station such as at the Shell forecourt in Cobham.

Alternatively-fuelled vehicles are growing in demand as motorists look for more environmentally-friendly ways to get around in cars that also help reduce their tax bill.

The latest figures from the SMMT show AFV sales were up 23.9 per cent year-on-year in January.

This has been driven by electric cars and plug-in hybrids, with hydrogen still in its infancy.

There are currently 12 hydrogen filling stations in the UK with more planned to open this year. Last year the Government announced a £23 million fund to accelerate the take up in hydrogen vehicles by improving infrastructure.

The Nexo will sit towards the top of Hyundai’s range when it goes on sale and offer an alternative to hybrid cars and more traditional petrol and diesel-powered vehicles.

Mr Whitehorn added: “We want to offer consumers a wide range of powertrain choices so they’re able to make the most appropriate decision based on their needs, but we see Nexo as being Hyundai’s technological flagship that will help build a more sustainable future.”

IONIQ Electric ranked first in 2017 ADAC EcoTest

The IONIQ Electric is the winner of the 2017 ADAC EcoTest.

In the course of the year Germany’s largest Automobile Association continuously tested 105 vehicles of all powertrains for their eco-friendliness. The IONIQ Electric was one of only five cars to achieve the maximum five-star rating. Emissions of CO2 and other pollutants were included in the evaluation. The IONIQ achieved the highest rating of 105 points: the full score of 50 points for low-emission driving and 55 out of 60 for its overall CO2 performance.

IONIQ Electric offers class-leading efficiency

The ADAC experts used the German energy mix of 579 g/kWh as a basis for their testing. This approach enables the ADAC EcoTest to compare alternative powertrains with conventional combustion engines. The IONIQ Electric scored an average 14.7 kWh per 100 kilometres, resulting in CO2consumption values of 85 g per kilometre – an outstanding outcome in the electric car segment. Confirmation of the results has been carried out through measurements on the road – the “real driving emissions”.

The strong result of the IONIQ Electric in the ADAC EcoTest underlines Hyundai Motor's competence in developing advanced technology and showcases the innovative spirit of our brand. The IONIQ line-up is a great foundation of our ambitious eco-car strategy that we are pushing forward this year with the All-New NEXO and KONA Electric.

Andreas-Christoph HofmannVice President Marketing and Product at Hyundai Motor Europe

The Hyundai IONIQ Electric is part of the successful IONIQ line-up of three different models. Hyundai Motor is the first car manufacturer to offer an electric, a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid powertrain in one single body type. Since entering the market in late 2016 Hyundai Motor has sold more than 28,000 units in Europe. With a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and several European awards for its overall performance, the IONIQ is one of the most decorated, best-value eco-cars in the market.

Hyundai’s Hydrogen-Powered, Self-Driving SUV Runs on Level 4 Autonomy

Hyundai recently showcased that their latest autonomous SUV, Nexo, can deliver Level 4 autonomy. The South Korean carmaker believes this breakthrough in self-driving vehicles was possible because Nexo's electric motor runs on hydrogen fuel.

When it comes to the future of clean and safe transportation, all bets seem to be on electric autonomous vehicles. These combine two of today’s most advanced technologies — electric motors and self-driving software. While both have seen much improvement, there’s still a lot of room for further development.

Which is why not every carmaker is particularly keen on the regular electric motor to power their next-generation driverless vehicles. One such car manufacturer is South Korea’s Hyundai, which unveiled the Nexo at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Image credit: Hyundai
Image credit: Hyundai

A crossover SUV that runs on hydrogen fuel, the Nexo has a range of approximately 800 km (500 miles) and is capable of a full refuel in only three to five minutes. When it comes out this March in Korea, refueling would mean taking the Nexo to dedicated Hydrogen Refueling Stations. The Nexo comes with semi-autonomous technology that Hyundai promises will be advanced to Level 4 autonomy by 2021. That might not be much of a stretch, though, considering the Nexo’s recent driving demonstration performance earlier this February.

According to reports, the Nexo SUV set a record for autonomous driving on a highway when it completed 190 km (118 miles) on full “cruise” mode. The stretch was managed by three Nexo SUVs and two Genesis G80s — from Hyundai’s luxury brand — outfitted with self-driving systems that follow Level 4 autonomy standards as described by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

It’s reportedly the first time a self-driving vehicle traveled more than 100 km (62 miles) at the maximum allowable speeds of up to 110 km/h (68 mph). All the while, the vehicles successfully overtook slower vehicles, changed lanes, and used automated toll gates — all without human intervention.

“We conducted a significant number of highway test drives amounting to hundreds of thousands of kilometers traveled, which enabled them to accumulate a vast amount of data that helped enhance the performance of our self-driving vehicles,” Hyundai said, a local news outlet reports.

 
Image credit: Hyundai
Changing lanes and passing toll booths. Image credit: Hyundai

This kind of performance demands more than the typical electric car battery, Hyundai global’s vice chairman Chung Eui-sun told CarAdvice at CES. He explained how vehicles with Level 4 autonomy (as well as Level 5) would require energy that could power the vehicle’s onboard processing computer while it handles 200-300 terabytes of data. “[Pure] electric vehicle battery is not enough for that, so maybe fuel cell can cover that amount of data processing,” explained Eui-sun.

Best of all, the only “waste” from hydrogen fuel-powered vehicles is water vapor, which could be collected and stored for later use.

The technology isn’t exactly new, although uptake has been rather slow because of particular hurdles. Hyundai developed their first hydrogen fuel cell engine in 1998, and has since worked on perfecting the technology. Now, alongside Hyundai, other carmakers are looking at hydrogen fuel cells again for developing cleaner vehicles.

Source: futurism.com

2018 Hyundai Elantra promoted to IIHS Top Safety Pick+

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently added a new test that should make it harder for a vehicle to earn the NGO's highest safety accolade, but nobody told that to the 2018 Hyundai Elantra.

The IIHS announced that the 2018 Elantra has earned the Top Safety Pick+ award, which is given to a vehicle that performs admirably in a battery of safety tests and performance evaluations. Previously, it had earned the second-best award, Top Safety Pick, but it passed the IIHS' latest crash test, earning itself a promotion.

That new test is the passenger-side small overlap front crash test. A mirror of the driver-side test instituted a few years ago, the IIHS started testing this crash on the passenger side to ensure automakers would protect front passengers as well as drivers. While the Elantra received a rating of Good for the driver side test, it only scored Acceptable on the passenger side, which is still a passing grade. The Elantra received a Good rating for four other crash tests, as well -- moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and seats/head restraints.

It should be noted that only Elantras built after December 2017 have earned the Acceptable rating for passenger-side small offset collisions. Hyundaiadded reinforcements to the door pillar and sill to reinforce the passenger side, likely specifically to score well on this test. Automakers have made similar moves in the past to ensure the highest ratings possible, even if it means making adjustments in the middle of a car's product cycle.

But it's not just about crashes. The IIHS also evaluates driver-assist systems, and the Elantra received a Superior rating when equipped with its optional automatic emergency braking system, part of the car's Ultimate Package. That same trim also gives the car a set of HID projector headlights that received a Good rating for illumination and lack of glare. Its standard headlights are rated Poor for inadequate visibility.

The 2018 Elantra is one of five small cars (and the only Hyundai) with the IIHS' highest safety rating -- the other winners are the 2018 Kia Forte, 2018 Kia Soul, 2018 Subaru Impreza and 2018 Subaru WRX. The Elantra's five-door cousin, the Elantra GT, remains stuck in the Top Safety Pick bucket.

 

Hyundai pledges $21bn for car technology

Hyundai Motor plans to invest about Won23tn ($21.56bn) over the next five years in electric cars, autonomous vehicles and related technology as the South Korean automaker pushes to catch up in this critical emerging technology. 

The plan comes amid a downturn in business for the country’s second-largest conglomerate. Hyundai and affiliate Kia Motors, which together rank as the world’s fifth-largest auto group, missed their 2017 sales target for a third straight year and forecast only a modest sales increase for this year, amid faltering China demand. 

Hyundai, a latecomer to self-driving technology, also announced a plan to hire 45,000 people for the next five years. The pledge came during as Kim Dong-yeon, the finance minister, visited Hyundai’s research centre for environment-friendly cars to encourage vehicle development.  Earlier this month, it announced a strategic partnership with Aurora, a Silicon Valley company with strong self-driving technology, to develop autonomous cars. It has already joined forces with Cisco Systems and Baidu to develop internet-connected cars. 

“Global trends are changing so fast. We will actively invest in new technologies and hire more talents to establish a virtuous circle,” Chung Eui-sun, Hyundai’s vice-chairman, said in a statement released by the finance ministry. 

Analysts said Hyundai trails rivals badly in investment in autonomous driving, and risks being left behind. “At the moment, its competitiveness in this new area is almost zero and it will face an existential threat in the self-driving era,” said Lee Hang-koo, researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade. Last week, Mr Chung visited the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Hyundai debuted its Nexo hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that it believes will be well suited to autonomous car technology thanks to its stable power supply. Under the partnership with Aurora, Hyundai aims to bring self-driving vehicles to market by 2021. 

Hyundai hopes to rev up sales by launching more eco-friendly electric vehicles and connected cars. Hyundai and Kia plan to launch about 38 green cars in the next seven years. Last year, Hyundai’s sales fell sharply in China and the US, its biggest markets, amid a diplomatic row about a US missile shield and lower consumer appetite for its sedans. The company will announce its fourth-quarter results on January 25. 

After being hit hard by China’s consumer backlash over the missile defence system installation in South Korea, Hyundai is trying hard to diversify its export markets, eyeing Southeast Asia. This month, it announced a plan to invest in Grab, a regional ride-hailing operator, to strengthen its foothold in the market. Under the partnership with the Singapore-based company, Hyundai will explore joint use of its Ioniq electric cars to develop ride-hailing services. The company is also considering building a car factory in Southeast Asia, probably in Indonesia or Vietnam, to increase sales in those countries.

Source: Financial Times

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About Garage Centraal

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