Sep 25, 2019

AV tech consolidation continues

Euisun Chung, executive vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Group and Kevin Clark, president and CEO of Aptiv. Photo: Courtesy of Hyundai

Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv are forming a $4 billion joint venture to produce self-driving technology, the latest in a string of alliances between automakers and AV tech companies.

The big picture: Developing self-driving cars is more difficult than many companies expected. Faced with a slowing global economy and mounting regulatory pressures, many players are teaming up to share the technology and financial burdens of AVs.

What's happening: Aptiv and Hyundai Group (which includes Hyundai, Kia and the Hyundai Mobis auto parts-making unit) will each own 50% of the joint venture.

  • Hyundai will invest $1.6 billion in cash and contribute $400 million in R&D resources.
  • Aptiv will transfer its autonomous driving technology, intellectual property and about 700 engineers to the new company.
  • Karl Iagnemma, president of Aptiv autonomous mobility, will lead the joint venture, to be based in Boston.
  • They plan to begin testing fully driverless systems in 2020 and have a self-driving platform available for robotaxi providers, fleet operators and automakers in 2022, senior executives told Reuters.

The intrigue: Hyundai's $2 billion tie-up with Aptiv raises questions about its commitment to Aurora Innovation, another AV tech firm in which it owns a stake.

  • Aurora recently ended a multi-year partnership with Volkswagen, which instead invested in Argo AI.
  • A Hyundai spokesperson emails that the company will continue to work with various partners on AV technology, including Aurora.
  • An Aurora spokeswoman confirmed that its partnerships with Hyundai and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, among others, are not exclusive.

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