9/25/2019 | 2 MINUTE READ

Hyundai and Aptiv Going for Levels 4 and 5

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Creating a $4-billion joint venture (JV) for autonomous vehicle (AV) tech


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Chung of Hyundai and Clark of Aptiv

Chung of Hyundai (left) and Clark of Aptiv (right). (Image: Hyundai)

In 2018 I had the opportunity to interview Chris Urmson, one of the leaders in the development of autonomous driving technology, CEO of Aurora. It happened to be in a conference room at the 2018 CES. Urmson had been on stage, announcing that Aurora was working with Hyundai Motor Group on the development of autonomous tech.

In June of this year it was announced that Hyundai had made an investment in Aurora.

Things change nowadays. Perhaps more quickly than ever.

Another partnership. Monday Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv announced that they’ve established a 50-50 joint venture with the objective of developing an autonomous driving platform for robotaxi providers, fleet operators and even automotive manufacturers who aren’t named Hyundai or Kia by 2022.

They’re teaming to create “production ready” autonomous systems for Level 4 and 5 self-driving.

Money & IP. This venture that said to be valued at $4-billion.

Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors and Hyundai Mobis are kicking in a collective $1.6-billion in cash and there are vehicle engineering services, R&D resources, and access to IP, valued at $0.4-billion.

Aptiv is providing its autonomous driving technology, IP and some 700 employees.

Location, location, location. Heading up the efforts will be Karl Iagnemma, who is president of Aptiv Autonomous Mobility. Iagnemma came to Aptiv in November 2017 when Aptiv acquired, for $450-million, the self-driving tech company that Iagnemma had co-founded a few years earlier, NuTonomy. NuTonomy spun out of MIT. The joint venture will be headquartered in Boston. There are a number of tech centers that the two companies have around the world, as well.

Execs say. In his obligatory quote related to the announcement, Euisun Chung, Executive Vice Chairman, Hyundai Motor Group, said “The new joint venture marks the start of a journey with Aptiv toward our common goal of commercializing autonomous driving. The combined capabilities of Aptiv, a leading global technology company, and our Group, a global OEM, will create invaluable synergy to lead the autonomous driving landscape.”

And Kevin Clark, president and CEO of Aptiv, chimed in, “This partnership further strengthens Aptiv’s industry-leading capabilities in the development of advanced driver assistance systems, vehicle connectivity solutions, and Smart Vehicle Architecture. Hyundai Motor Group’s cutting-edge engineering and R&D capabilities make them our partner of choice to advance the development of a production-ready autonomous platform.”

Partners everywhere. Clearly, this combination is going to have an effect on autonomous driving technology. As did the relationship that Ford and Volkswagen announced in July, with VW investing $2.6-billion in Argo AI, the company that Ford is working with—and invested in—for autonomous driving.

And there is the $2.75-billion that Honda is putting in GM Cruise Automation.

What we see here are massive bets on tech (Aptiv knows a little something about that, given the partnership that it has with Lyft in Las Vegas, providing rides in 30 autonomous vehicles (although there is a safety driver on board)) being made by automotive and tech companies, as well as partnerships the likes of which are hard to imagine unless there was some huge challenge to be solved.

And make no mistake: even with plans to launch in 2022, automated driving remains a huge challenge.

Yet the moves that are being made indicate the various companies are working exceedingly hard to overcome them.


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