Smart mobility, hydrogen and robots; Hyundai’s high-tech hopes

16 December 2020

16 December 2020 Carmakers are transitioning away from that traditional and restrictive label. Manufacturers are now laying out roadmaps towards a high-tech, multimodal future. Setting a prime example of this phenomenon, Hyundai Motor Group has lifted the curtain on its strategic shift towards electrification, alternative fuels and advanced capabilities. Its recently announced Strategy 2025 contains a three-pillared approach to smart-mobility solutions, with an emphasis on electrification. Hyundai has also unveiled HTWO, a new hydrogen brand which will build on its 20-plus years of experience with fuel-cell technology. Lastly, the OEM has also made a big move into the high-tech world of robotics, acquiring a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics. Strategy 2025 Hyundai’s just updated Strategy 2025 builds on the three pillars of electrification, mobility services and hydrogen solutions. Hyundai Source: Hyundai Starting with the launch of the Ioniq 5 next year, the manufacturer plans to sell 560,000 electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) per year by 2025. Hyundai expects to introduce more than 12 battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) built on its new E-GMP EV platform in the same period. With its first dedicated BEV platform, vehicles based on E-GMP will be able to provide a range of over 500km (WLTP) on a full charge. The manufacturer expects that a vehicle on the platform could achieve up to 80% charge within 18 minutes when plugged into a high-speed charging point. Its integrated-power electric system includes the world’s first multi-charging (400V/800V) and bi-directional power-conversion function. In the medium- to long-term, the company is aiming to secure leadership in the EV world, achieving an 8-10% share of the global market by 2040. The aim is to increase its electrified offering in key markets like the US, China and Europe, eventually electrifying its product line-up in major global markets by the beginning of the next decade. Air and autonomy In terms of smart-mobility solutions, Hyundai will continue to develop its urban-air mobility (UAM) as a new means of transport. Wanting to come out ahead in the UAM market, the company looks to build a family of air vehicles that cover both passenger and cargo transport. It plans to introduce an unmanned-aircraft system (UAS) with a hybrid powertrain in 2026, and launch an all-electric UAM model optimised for intra-city operations in 2028. In the 2030s, the company plans to launch regional air mobility that connects adjacent cities. Hyundai is also speeding up its efforts to develop autonomous systems. It has a particular interest in sensor-fusion technology, which integrates and processes information collected from various sensors, like cameras and radars, with a plan to also introduce lidar on mass-production vehicles to improve accuracy. Starting from 2022, the OEM wants to offer models equipped with Level 3 autonomous systems. Additionally, it will accelerate commercialisation of Level 4 and 5 technologies through collaboration with global partners. Hydrogen hopes Hyundai also recently launched HTWO, a new hydrogen fuel-cell dedicated brand. It wants to develop a next-generation hydrogen fuel-cell system, which can be utilised through the world of transport from cars to ships, and trains to UAMs. Given hydrogen’s unique qualities, the company expects the next-generation fuel-cell system will deliver enhanced performance, durability and affordability, all in a lighter architecture with enhanced energy density. Through strategic partnerships with hydrogen, energy and logistics companies, Hyundai has expanded its fuel-cell business and is bolstering development, laying the groundwork for HTWO in major hub regions like Korea, the US, Europe and China. Since marketing the world’s first mass-produced fuel-cell vehicle, the ix35 in 2013, the OEM has been advancing hydrogen systems with the Nexo SUV, Xcient truck and a fuel-cell electric bus. Do androids dream of electric vehicles? In a further lunge towards future technology, Hyundai has moved to acquire a controlling 80% stake in Boston Dynamics, in a deal which values the robotics company at $1.1 billion (€0.9 billion). The OEM considers the move as another strategic step towards its transformation into a smart-mobility solutions provider. Boston Dynamics produces highly capable robots with advanced mobility, dexterity, and intelligence. This allows automation in difficult, dangerous or unpredictable environments. The company began selling its first commercial robot, called Spot, in June this year and has since sold hundreds of robots in a variety of industries, including power utilities, construction, manufacturing, oil and gas, and mining. The robotics company plans to expand the Spot product line early next year with an enterprise version, including greater levels of autonomy and remote-inspection capabilities, as well as the release of a robotic arm. Hyundai believes the robotics market has potential for significant growth. It plans to invest in logistical applications to enhance efficiency and establish automation. There are also plans for service robots, with potential usage beyond the commercial world, including public security and safety. In health-related public services, robots can be used to offer mobility for the disabled or the elderly. ′We are delighted to have Boston Dynamics, a world leader in mobile robots, join the Hyundai team,’ said Euisun Chung, chairman of Hyundai Motor Group. ′This transaction will unite capabilities of Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics to spearhead innovation in future mobility. ′The synergies created by our union offer exciting new pathways for our companies to realise our goal – providing free and safe movement and a higher plane of life experiences for humanity,’ he added. ′We will also contribute to society by enhancing its safety, security, public health amid global trends of an ageing society and digital transformation.’