Hyundai was once seen as being late to the party in forging the cross-industry collaborations necessary for automotive companies to tackle the challenges posed by next generation mobility services. However, since announcing its aim of putting driverless cars on the road by 2021, Hyundai has embarked on a series of collaborations across the tech and telecoms sectors.
Its latest deals with Yandex, a Russian multinational technology company, and Ola, India’s ride-sharing giant, underscore Hyundai’s desire to transforming itself into a ‘smart mobility service provider’.
Yandex is a Russian internet conglomerate, often referred to as the “Google of Russia”. Although Yandex has its roots in search engines, it has sought to diversify, including ventures in machine learning and ride hailing. On the back of the success of Yandex.Taxi, a ride hailing service operating in 15 countries across EMEA, Yandex has now positioned itself as a frontrunner in the development of autonomous vehicle technology in Russia. It has reportedly performed thousands of test rides of an autonomous taxi service, including in closed-campus environments in Russia, Tel Aviv and most recently Las Vegas, Nevada.
Hyundai’s collaboration with Yandex comes through Hyundai Mobis, Hyundai’s OEM parts and service division. The companies plan to develop control systems (hardware and software) for Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous vehicle systems, with the aim of creating an fully autonomous vehicle platform that can be used by any car manufacturer, car sharing service or taxi fleet. Reports suggest that the first stage of this collaboration will be the development of a prototype vehicle based on a standard Hyundai production vehicle.
The deal, Yandex’s first with an auto manufacturer, will see each company look to capitalise on the other’s strengths in building an autonomous vehicle platform. Hyundai Mobis will develop sensors and vehicle control software, while Yandex will integrate its autonomous driving software into the platform and undertake testing and operations throughout Russia and other countries where Yandex is licensed to operate autonomous vehicles. Notably, the deal is non-exclusive so both companies may work with third parties.
Shortly before the Yandex deal was announced, Hyundai announced a US$300 million investment into Ola, India’s largest mobility service provider.
The tie-up will see Hyundai and Kia working with Ola to develop unique fleet and mobility solutions, build India-specific electric vehicles and infrastructure, and develop customized vehicles for the Ola platform.
This investment is Hyundai’s and Kia’s largest combined investment to date. It is also Hyundai’s second investment into the ride hailing sector, having previously invested US$275 million into Grab.
Time will tell whether Hyundai made its move to collaborate too late in the day. However, these latest investments reinforce Hyundai’s desire to transform itself from a traditional auto manufacturer; to become involved across the entire mobility value chain ― including vehicle production, fleet operation and mobility services.