01-03-2021 | | By Robin Mitchell
Hyundai is famous for the production of automotive vehicles, but recently deals and plans suggest that Hyundai aims to become the next tech giant. Is Hyundai still working with Apple on electric cars, what tech companies have it purchased, and what does it hope for its future?
Hyundai is a South Korean automotive manufacturer that operates in many countries including the US, UK, China, Japan, and Australia. Hyundai started operations in 1967 in South Korea, and since then, has over 100,000 employees worldwide with yearly revenue of 105.75 trillion Won (approx $900 billion).
The parent company, Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company was founded in 1947, and the first car product sold by Hyundai was the Cortina (jointly developed with Ford). Hyundai is often listed in top 10 car rankings and are rarely involved in controversy as an automotive manufacturer.
Apple has been attempting to develop electric vehicles for several years now but discovered that designing a car and manufacturing it at a reasonable cost are two very different things (something that Dyson also discovered). Thus, instead of designing a car from scratch, Apple has been exploring the idea of partnering with a pre-existing car manufacturer to create a self-driving electric vehicle.
One company that frequently appeared in the news alongside Apple was Hyundai. While never truly confirmed, South Korean media stated that they had sources verifying that the two companies were in talks regarding creating a new generation of electric vehicles.
As it turns out, the talks did indeed take place, but recently Hyundai announced that those talks are no longer taking place which suggests that the two companies will not be working on an electric vehicle together. When rumours regarding the two companies emerged, Apple stated that they are in talks with multiple car manufacturers. So it is likely that Apple are looking towards other companies.
Electric vehicles are arguably the automotive industry's future thanks to their popularity with environmental concerns, ability to reduce pollution in congested areas, and the convenience of home charging. With government regulations coming in trying to ban the sale of fossil fuel driving vehicles, car companies will have to turn to the production of electric vehicles to survive.
Hyundai has often been criticised for being technologically behind other vehicle manufacturers, but Hyundai has recently been demonstrating electric vehicles it is currently developing. The new range of vehicles fall under a new name, Ioniq, and hopes that this will rival cars such as those produced by Tesla.
Even if Apple and Hyundai decide not to work together on creating electric vehicles, this won’t stop Hyundai from continuing with development in the automotive industry. However, Hyundai is also showing interest in the tech industry having purchased Boston Dynamics last year and developing its own robotic tech such as the DAL-e robot.
Robotic and automation systems will undoubtedly become critical in technological development. Hyundai investing in robotic and automation systems demonstrates that it intends to stay relevant in the tech industry and even potentially lead it. For example, Hyundai has shown interest in self-driving cars, air taxis, and AI at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2020.
Cars used to be mostly mechanical with a few electronics to control the battery's starter motor and charging. However, modern cars are becoming more computer than machines. The development of complex technologies such as self-driving, automatic braking, and pedestrian detection demonstrates the importance of tech in vehicles.
This transformation from mechanical to electronic has been particularly tough on an industry that has mostly been mechanical since its conception. In fact, this was perfectly demonstrated when many automotive manufacturers were left confused and angry after discovering Qualcomm’s licensing practices and how they would have to pay Qualcomm royalties despite having paid for the chips already.
With the rise of software-defined systems, the integration of high-end AI processors into everyday devices, and the rising importance of IoT, car manufacturers will need to move into the tech sector and explore how to integrate tech into their vehicles. There will always be a small niche market for mechanical vehicles. Still, as regulation is introduced, banning then using fossil fuels, car manufacturers will have to accept that electronics and electricity will become the new driving force in the industry.