Among top global automotive groups, fifth-largest Hyundai Motor (HYMLF) is one of the last to publicly delineate a strategy for mastering autonomous or driverless technology for its vehicles. That could be about to change.
In an interview with Bloomberg in Seoul, Hyundai president Jeong Jin Haeng hinted that Hyundai and Alphabet's (GOOG) Google unit may discuss expanding partnerships to gain expertise so the carmaker can remain competitive, especially in information technology.
Until now, Hyundai has avoided partnerships, such as ones to design and build electric cars, though the automaker has been among the most aggressive to offer Apple Car Play and Google's Android Auto in its infotainment systems.
A former Samsung executive, Hwang Seung Ho, who is now Hyundai's executive vice president for information technology, has said publicly that the company's go-it-alone penchant should give way to more partnerships with Silicon Valley firms and others to close the competitive gap with other automakers.
Earlier this week, Hyundai officials in British Columbia sidestepped questions at the press launch of its new Genesis brand about how soon or whether the cars will offer driverless technology. The new Genesis G90 large sedan, about to arrive at U.S. dealerships, does feature an array of advanced safety devices that rely on sensors and software integration.
"Hyundai is lagging behind the competition to develop autonomous vehicles," Ko Tae Bong, senior auto analyst at Hi Investment & Securities, told Bloomberg. "It's not a choice but a critical prerequisite for Hyundai to cooperate with IT companies, such as Google, to survive in the near future."