Hyundai teams up with Baidu on connected cars

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Hyundai teams up with Baidu on connected cars

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Visitors of the Baidu booth at CES Asia 2017 inside Hyundai Motor’s Santa Fe SUV equipped with the Chinese tech company’s map system, Baidu MapAuto, and Duer OS Auto. The consumer electronics show, which kicked off on Wednesday in Shanghai, will run until Friday. [YONHAP]

Hyundai Motor said Wednesday that it is working with Baidu, operator of China’s largest search engine, to develop connected car technology for the Chinese market, the latest attempt by the Korean automaker to turn around falling sales in the world’s largest auto market.

The project was announced on the opening day of CES Asia, one of the region’s largest consumer electronics shows. Hyundai Motor is participating in the event for the first time, and seven other automakers, including German luxury brands BMW and Mercedes-Benz, are also taking part, a testament to the growing connection between automotive and information technologies.

Hyundai Motor plans to equip its vehicles sold in China with connected car software developed in partnership with Baidu. They include navigational service Baidu MapAuto and Duer OS Auto, a driver assistance system.

Baidu MapAuto will utilize GPS, big data and cloud services to help drivers navigate routes and provide information such as parking lots and restaurants located nearby.

Duer OS Auto is a voice-activated service that a driver can initiate by saying “Nihao, Hyundai” (“Hello, Hyundai” in Chinese). The driver can then give the system other voice commands. At the moment, it can provide information on the weather and movies showing in local theaters. Hyundai said it will add additional services like music in the near future.

Both systems will be included in Hyundai models set to be released in China at the end of the year.

“We will bolster our partnership with Baidu in the development of connected cars to come up with vehicles that will help our customers’ lives become more efficient,” Yang Woong-chul, vice chairman of the Korean automaker and head of its R&D center, said at the event.

Hyundai’s partnership with the Chinese tech giant comes as it continues to struggle in the Chinese market, affected by a political row between Beijing and Seoul over a U.S. missile defense system on Korean soil that has spilled over into the trade realm.

The latest estimates from market analysts show the combined sales of Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, Hyundai’s affiliate, might have plummeted by more than 60 percent in May.

A company spokesperson said Hyundai Motor expects the partnership with Baidu to help improve its image in the Chinese market.


BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]

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