Hyundai Motor to replace battery systems in costly electric car recall

(Reuters) – Hyundai Motor Co will replace battery systems in some 82,000 electric vehicles globally due to fire risks, a problem which combined with an earlier recall is likely to cost the automaker an estimated $900 million.

Most of the latest recall applies to its best-selling electric car, the Kona EV, which was first recalled in October for a software upgrade after a series of fires.

But in January, one of the recalled vehicles caught fire and South Korean authorities launched a probe into whether the first recall had been adequate.

LG Energy Solution, a division of LG Chem Ltd which manufactures the batteries, said in a statement that Hyundai Motor has misapplied LG’s suggestion for fast-charging logic in Hyundai’s battery management system and that the battery cell should not be seen as the direct cause of the fire risks.

The new recall applies to roughly 76,000 Kona EVs as well as some Ioniq EV and Elec City models.

There have been some 15 cases of fires involving the Kona EV – 11 in South Korea, two in Canada and one each in Finland and Austria, according to the transport ministry.

Hyundai said in a statement that of the total 1 trillion won in estimated recall costs, some 38.9 billion won was due to the first recall.

Shares of Hyundai Motor and LG Chem were trading down 3.7% and 1.9% respectively in afternoon trade compared to a 2% fall for the broader market.

($1 = 1,111.7900 won)

Hyundai Motor launches Ioniq 5 electric crossover, expects EV demand jump

(Reuters) – South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co launched its Ioniq 5 midsize crossover on Tuesday, the first in a planned family of electric vehicles (EV) that it hopes will propel it into the third rank of global EV makers by 2025.Slideshow ( 5 images )

The company says the model is based on a new electric vehicle-only platform that uses its own battery module technology and requires fewer components than Hyundai’s existing electric cars, enabling faster production at lower cost.

The launch of Ioniq 5 is the linchpin of Hyundai’s long-term goal to capture 10% of global EV sales by 2025, up from a combined market share of 7.2% for Hyundai and Kia together during the January-September period in 2020, according to industry tracker SNE Research. Hyundai Motor and its sister company Kia Corp together aim to sell 1 million EVs in 2025.

“We expect this year’s (global) EV demand will increase more than 30% versus last year,” Hyundai Motor President Chang Jae-hoon told a news conference.

The Ioniq 5 will have a maximum driving range of about 480 kms (298 miles), up nearly 20% from the Kona EV, which previously had the longest range among Hyundai’s EV lineup.

It will offer two battery pack options – 58-kilowatt-hour (kWh) or 72.6 kWh – and will be available in selected regions starting in the first half of 2021, Hyundai said in a statement.

The South Korean automaker did not disclose the price of the Ioniq 5, but Hyundai Motor Europe President Michael Cole said in Europe it would start at about 42,000 euros ($51,100) before government incentives.

Hyundai is targeting sales of 100,000 units globally next year, with about 30%-40% in Europe, 30% in North America and 20% in South Korea.

“Hyundai will be able to increase its presence in the global EV market as it adds a new EV, considering that the company showed solid performance with its major EV Kona Electric,” said Kevin Yoo, an analyst at eBEST Investment & Securities.

($1 = 0.8219 euros)

Hyundai: The carmaker aiming to become a tech firm

For a few weeks this year, South Korean carmaker Hyundai was dusted with the Apple magic.

Hyundai's concept EV is called Prophecy
image captionHyundai’s concept electric vehicle (EV) is called Prophecy

Last month Hyundai let slip that it was in talks with the maker of the iPhone to co-operate on a car project, but this week it said the talks were over.

However, this is by no means the end of Hyundai’s push into technology.

The car firm has been investing heavily in new technology with a string of partnerships, acquisitions and investments within the tech space.

Its takeover of robotics firm Boston Dynamics last year was a clear indication of the direction it is taking – into cutting-edge technology.

The whole auto industry has been forced to innovate as the move towards electric cars and autonomous vehicles accelerates.

Hyundai has been criticised in the past for lagging behind rivals in adopting emerging technologies but is fast catching up, sealing a string of alliances and investments with technology groups recently.

“Hyundai has a different set of motivations and more incentive to push the limit. They have been a lot more aggressive in reinventing themselves,” says Dale Hardcastle, a partner at consultancy firm Bain.

Hyundai has built its own humanoid robot called DAL-e
image captionHyundai has built its own humanoid robot called DAL-e

Hyundai has been ramping up the electrification of its line-up of cars with a dedicated battery electric vehicle (BEV) range called Ioniq.

Its aggressive electric car ambitions will see it launch 12 new BEV models over the next four years, and fully electrify its line-up around the globe by 2040.

Beyond battery electric vehicles, Hyundai has been busy developing charging points and hydrogen refuelling stations.

“It’s very clear where Hyundai sees its future. It’s a brand that wants to disrupt and push forward, to break up the status quo,” says Mr Hardcastle.

The purchase of a majority stake in Boston Dynamics in a $1.1bn (£810m) deal in December was seen as a major step to becoming a leader in car technology. 

Boston Dynamics is a pioneer in consumer robotics, while it has a shared interest with Hyundai in autonomous driving and smart factories.

“Hyundai is being very responsive to the dynamic market trends,” says Bakar Sadik Agwan, senior automotive consulting analyst at GlobalData.

“With the automotive industry getting more dynamic day by day due to the fast technological advancements, companies need to transform their business strategies to secure their position in the future mobility era. Hyundai seems to be well on track in this direction.”

Huawei
image captionHuawei is also working on its own smart car

The fact that Apple was considering a partnership with Hyundai shows how far the carmaker has advanced.

And there are plenty of other projects in the pipeline.

Electric vehicles, autonomous driving and even the potential for passenger drones are all possible projects for Hyundai and its sister company Kia.

“We are receiving requests for co-operation in joint development of autonomous electric vehicles from various companies, but they are at an early stage and nothing has been decided,” Hyundai said.

“The stock market loves car companies who are tech firms, as seen with Tesla’s rise,” says Sarwant Singh, managing partner at analysts Frost & Sullivan.

“This partnership [with Apple] would have further highlighted Hyundai’s position as a tech innovator.”

Many industry experts expect Hyundai to tie up with fellow South Korean conglomerate and tech giant Samsung in developing smart electric vehicles.

“Hyundai Motor Group is exploring areas of potential collaboration with diverse business partners around the world including Samsung Group, but there is no specific initiative we can identify at this time,” Hyundai spokeswoman Jin Cha told the BBC.

“In line with this, we have our doors open to potential partners, particularly global companies which are global leaders in their respective domains.”

Modern touch

Hyundai, which means modernity in English, was founded by Chung Ju-yung in 1947. The group makes products across the motor, construction, steel and technology industries.

Mr Chung handed over the reins in 2000 to his son Chung Mong-koo who ran the company for 20 years before moving on to become honorary chairman last October. 

He was succeeded by his son Euisun Chung in a move many feel will give impetus to the world’s fifth largest carmaker’s push into electric vehicles.

In a welcome speech Mr Chung, 49, said he hoped to bring about change at Hyundai during a period of rapid technological innovation within the global auto industry.

He identified autonomous driving, electrification, hydrogen fuel cells, robotics and urban air mobility (UAM) – industry jargon for flying cars – as his future initiatives.

“Carmakers need to prepare themselves for the future. By not exploring potential new business models, these companies are setting themselves up for obsolescence,” says Sam Fiorani from Global Vehicle Forecasting.

Future focused

The changes began just over a year ago when Hyundai signed a joint venture with self-driving technology firm Aptiv in a $4bn partnership named Motional. 

Ireland-based Aptiv supplies the technology that helps integrate data coming from the sensors that self-driving cars rely on.

“Automobile manufacturers need to become technology companies. The old model of just making and selling cars and trucks is disappearing and the future is so much more,” adds Sarwant Singh at Frost & Sullivan.

Hyundai also has an ambitious plan to buildhas an ambitious plan to buildelectric air taxis and wants to get them flying by 2028.

Hyundai chairman Euisun Chung at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2020
image captionHyundai chairman Euisun Chung at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2020

Tech titans

A recent report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) looked at the prospects of tech companies like Apple and Google becoming significant carmakers in the future given their recent advances. 

Tech giant Google has its own self-driving unit called Waymo, which already makes commercial self-driving taxis, while it emerged in December that Huawei is working on its own smart car.

But BCG concluded that the reverse could happen instead. 

“The automakers that digitally reinvent the fastest, becoming a company that looks more like Apple or Peloton. 

“It could be argued that such automakers would have the scale to add themselves to the list of future tech giants.”

Hyundai is hoping to be one of them.

Hyundai’s confusion over Apple electric car tie-up

Hyundai has sparked confusion over a possible electric car tie-up with Apple.

The South Korean car company initially said it was in the “early stage” of talks with the iPhone maker about a possible electric car partnership.

But hours later it backtracked and said it was talking with a number of potential partners without naming Apple.

Hyundai’s share price rose more than 20% when the tie-up was announced.

“Apple and Hyundai are in discussions but they are at an early stage and nothing has been decided,” it said in a statement which was later revised. Hyundai’s value shot up $9bn (£6.5bn) after the Apple announcement.

While an updated statement said it was talking to a number of companies about a possible electric car tie-up including Apple, a later version omitted the US tech firm. 

Apple is known for its secretiveness when it comes to new products and partnerships. 

Last month, news emerged that Apple was moving forward with self-driving car technology with a 2024 launch date.

The electric vehicle (EV) market is becoming increasingly competitive, with companies such as Tesla grabbing the headlines with its rapidly-increasing valuation. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk is now the richest man in the world, displacing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Experts say an electric vehicle from Apple is still at least five years away. 

They say pandemic-related delays could push the start of production into 2025 or beyond.

Catching up

Hyundai has already been pushing into new technologies such as electric, driverless and flying cars.

Last month, it took a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics in a deal that valued the mobile robot firm at $1.1bn.

The company is also setting up a $4bn autonomous-driving joint venture with auto parts supplier Aptiv.

Apple’s efforts to produce an electric car, known as Project Titan, have been on and off ever since plans were revealed in 2014. 

There have been rumours over who would assemble an Apple-branded car as it may be difficult for the tech giant to manufacture them on its own.

Its rival Alphabet’s Waymo chose a factory in Detroit to mass produce its own self-driving cars.

Apple and Hyundai in talks over electric car tie-up

Hyundai has announced it is in early discussions with Apple to work together on self-driving electric cars.

The South Korean car firm’s share price rocketed more than 20% on Friday when the news was announced.

“Apple and Hyundai are in discussions but they are at an early stage and nothing has been decided,” it said in a statement.

Last month, news emerged that Apple was moving forward with self-driving car technology with a 2024 launch date.

The electric vehicle (EV) market is becoming increasingly competitive with companies like Tesla grabbing the headlines with its rapidly-increasing valuation. Its founder Elon Musk is now the richest man in the world, displacing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Experts say an electric vehicle from Apple is still at least five years away. 

They say pandemic-related delays could push the start of production into 2025 or beyond.

Catching up

Hyundai has already been pushing into new technologies such as electric, driverless and flying cars.

Last month, it took a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics in a deal that valued the mobile robot firm at $1.1bn.

The company is also setting up a $4bn (£3bn) autonomous-driving joint venture with auto parts supplier Aptiv. 

Both partners will invest $2bn, while Ireland-based Aptiv will contribute about 700 engineers and transfer patents and intellectual property to the venture. Should I buy an electric car?

Apple’s efforts to produce an electric car, known as Project Titan, have been on and off ever since plans were revealed in 2014. 

There have been rumours over who would assemble an Apple-branded car as it may be difficult for the tech giant to manufacture them on its own.

Its rival Alphabet’s Waymo chose a factory in Detroit to mass produce its own self-driving cars.