Hyundai thinks big with int’l expansion

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Hyundai thinks big with int’l expansion

Hyundai Motor announced Monday it will open innovation centers in five cities in order to build a network that allows the carmaker to share the data and technology it accumulates from multiple start-ups and partner companies.

Hyundai will build innovation labs in Seoul, Beijing and Berlin by the end of this year, in addition to the ones announced last year to be built in Israel and the United States.

“Setting up an open innovation network in five locations known for vigorous start-up activities is Hyundai Motor’s strategy to take an upper hand in the fourth industrial revolution and future mobility innovation,” a Hyundai Motor official said. “Hyundai Motor is going to make a range of attempts to create a new growth engine,” the official added.

Each lab will have the common objective of finding local start-ups and nurturing them, but each location will have its own distinctive purpose as well.

The Seoul lab will focus on experimenting with different technologies in partnership with Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors’ R&D centers located in Korea to look for technology that is ready to be implemented in its cars.

The Beijing-based lab will focus on securing technology that corresponds to local ICT infrastructure and can be used as a strategic base for collaboration with local conglomerates. The Beijing lab will be especially important, because China is the world’s biggest auto market.

The site in Berlin will focus on finding opportunities to start new businesses such as those related to smart cities, an inseparable segment when developing autonomous cars.

The U.S.-based location in Silicon Valley is labeled Cradle, short for Center for Robotic-Augmented Design in Living Experiences. It will play a central role in setting the direction for technology development in all five locations based on the trends spotted from the numerous Silicon Valley-based start-ups. It will also act as an accelerator for start-ups found in Korea to help them advance in Silicon Valley as well.

The aggressive collaboration was hard to imagine just five years ago. With its dozen affiliates, Hyundai Motor has long been famous for handling development and manufacturing by itself.

As borders rapidly become less important in global industry, the world’s fifth-largest automaker is slowly stepping outside of its comfort zone.

In the last two years alone, Hyundai Motor has announced major international partnerships including with U.S.-based IT company Cisco and China-based search engine firm Baidu to develop connected cars. In the Korean market it collaborated with IT firm Kakao and car-sharing start-up Luxi last year. This year, it partnered up with U.S. start-up Aurora.

Next year Hyundai Motor will implement a personal assistant system with voice-recognition to its cars. The breakthrough system is a result of a partnership with U.S. sound-recognition firm SoundHound, which Hyundai Motor invested in back in 2011.

“Making a synergy effect by collaborating with external companies is an inevitable trend in the global auto market,” said Kim Pil-soo, an automotive engineering professor at Daelim University.

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