What does the future hold? Hyundai makes an educated guess

These days, it seems like everyone is gazing into their crystal ball to try and sort out what the car industry will look like in the not-so-distant future. Hyundai is certainly no exception, but rather than churning out some rendering or one-off concept, the Korean automaker has announced the creation of Project IONIQ Lab, a collection of top academics tasked with exploring the future of mobility. Hyundai first announced Project IONIQ at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, framing it as a long-term R&D venture to help the brand innovate and generate new technologies, and now, Project IONIQ’s recently revealed Lab division has disclosed 12 “megatrends” that have the potential to transform the car industry in the next 15 years.

The Project IONIQ Lab is made up of 20 researchers and consultant experts, and is led by Dr. Soon Jong Lee, professor at the Seoul National University and head of the Future Design & Research Institute.

The Lab will focus its efforts in four primary areas: “freedom to use mobility whenever and wherever,” “freedom to connect to everyday life while on the move,” “freedom from accidents and inconveniences,” and “freedom from environmental pollution and energy exhaustion.”

So then – what exactly are these 12 megatrends, but what do they have to do with cars? We’ll give you the rundown on each, plus our take on what they really mean.

Continue reading for the full story.

Hyper-connected Society

The Lab’s first megatrend deals with the transmission of information, specifically the amount of information, the different types of information, and how quickly the information is transmitted. In essence, the Lab foresees a future wherein individuals are instantly connected to everything around them, all the time.

This includes mobility applications, also known as V2X, or “vehicle-to-everything” communication. V2X incorporates all kinds of interesting functions, such as V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure), V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle), V2P (vehicle-to-pedestrian), V2D (vehicle-to-device), and V2G (vehicle-to-grid).

Here’s an example of each:

V2I: your car communicates with the traffic lights at an intersection for better safety and higher efficiency

V2V: your car communicates with vehicles further ahead on the freeway to notify you to slow for an accident

V2P: your car alerts you to an inattentive pedestrian stepping into traffic

V2D: an app allows you to remotely start your car and set the climate control

V2G: your EV communicates with the electric grid to supply power during peak hours

TopSpeed’s Take

Many of these technologies are already coming into focus, in particular V2D. Most are geared towards safety and convenience, but greater energy efficiency also plays a major role. One of the issues is the integration of older vehicles into the V2X system, as the major benefits will only manifest once all the cars on the road are taking part. However, once that tipping point is reached, we’ll wonder how we ever got along without it.

Hyper-aging Society

Thanks to medical advances, people are living longer. According to the Lab, by 2030 at least 21 percent of the population in most developed countries will be 65 years or older. As such, mobility will need to adapt to help older folks stay active and lead meaningful lives, and will incorporate advances in ride sharing, ride hailing, in-car services, and even wearable robots.

TopSpeed’s Take

As you get older, you tend to lose your independence. As the body fails, even the simplest of tasks must be handed off to someone else, which can significantly degrade the quality of life. Technology has the ability to counter this.

For example, Grandma won’t be able to drive, but she’ll still be able to get to the store and her doctor’s appointment by calling a car on her phone. If she needs a hand climbing onboard, a car with a built-in lift can be specified.


Like it or not, the push for alternative sources of energy will only grow over time. The Lab predicts ever-increasing regulations, and as a result, infrastructural efficiency will become a major issue. Coinciding with this will be the utilization of renewables and low-consumption vehicles, including in the realm of manufacturing.

TopSpeed’s Take

In a post-Dieselgate world, it seems as though all the major automakers are lining up to offer more eco-friendly products, but overall, a lot of it has just been lip service. That’s probably because most of the pressure is coming from just a handful of consumers. However, once government starts to get a little heavier handed, the changes should come much quicker.

Multi-Layered Mash-up

Industries once relegated to a defined space are quickly expanding to merge with other industries, creating a mash-up of “value chains” that are improved upon thanks to the specialties that exist outside the original, individual industry. The Lab sees advances in communications technologies and mixed reality (the merger of the real and virtual worlds, a related facet of augmented reality) paving the way to new opportunities in business and user experiences.

TopSpeed’s Take

This one’s a little complicated, but think of it like this – rather than creating an infotainment system from scratch, a car company can turn to the mobile world to make a better system. And thanks to pressures that are unique to the car world (hands-free operation, interface simplification), the mobile companies can infuse their products with further improvements.

Now take that mash-up further. Imagine how the car industry can expand beyond cars – maybe it includes a scooter to get you from your parking spot to your office. Maybe it includes entertainment on par with a concert hall.

Context-Awareness based Individualization

There are all kinds of sensors out there that are capable of “reading” an individual and put a slice of time into context. The Lab foresees a future wherein an AI will be able to process that information and compute an appropriate in-car action.

TopSpeed’s Take

Let’s say you and your friends are on your way to a concert, and you want to listen to some music to keep the vibe going. Rather than searching for the appropriate song, context-awareness based individualization will be able to identify the general mood and destination and put on the perfect soundtrack, all without any input from the users.

High Concept Society

As innovations like 3D printing and open source information overturn barriers to manufacturing, the consumer will be empowered to create his or her own idealized product, giving rise to the private manufacturing market.

TopSpeed’s Take

Don’t like the fascia on the new 3 Series? Design a new one. Want some different wheels for the summer? Draft them up and print them out. These are the sort of things that are possible when car manufacturing is no longer relegated to the whims of enormous corporations.

Decentralization of Power

With the advent of information technologies, small groups of people once consigned to the fringes of society are given the power to make their desires known, and as a result, the established power structure is starting to become distorted. This inevitably leads to diversification, and convergence and cooperation will be considered the “core values that guide the following industrial age.”

TopSpeed’s Take

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, especially when you’ve got the Internet. This is why I’m not afraid of fully autonomous vehicles taking away my right to drive. I know there are plenty of folks out there who have the same interests as I do, and that’s not going away. Driverless is a great idea, but it’s gonna have to include folks like you and me.

Anxiety and Chaos

With technological progression comes new anxieties and chaos, including “cyber terrorism/crime, class polarization, techno-stress, and generational conflict,” to name just a few. Mobility solutions have the ability to lessen some of these new pressures as a “healing medium.”

TopSpeed’s Take

You know that feeling when you finally get home after a long day of work, when you can finally kick back for a moment and just relax? Now, what if you got that feeling as soon as you entered your car? For the moment, the drive home from work is a battle, just another part of the commuting cycle. That could very well change in the future.

Sharing Society

The sharing economy is expanding, and cars are taking part. Efficiency is valued over status, and on-demand services are creating greater convenience. According to the Lab, “A mutually beneficial sharing foundation that is capable of advancing common interest must be laid.”

TopSpeed’s Take

Remember when you heard all those complaints that the Millennial Generation “just wasn’t interested in cars”? Well, the industry mouthpieces were wrong. Millennials are just as interested in cars as any other generation. The problem is they can’t afford them. New ownership models of the sharing economy will change that – permanently.


Advances in AI will start to blur the line between humans and robots. This will affect mobility to a huge degree, with driverless vehicles required to establish its own “value systems.” Conversely, humanity will need to keep the robots in check through assurances of “safety, efficiency, and control.”

TopSpeed’s Take

Here’s one moral dilemma surrounding driverless cars that may not have a solution – let’s say there’s a bus barreling down the wrong lane of traffic, while on the sidewalk there’s a group of kids walking home from school. In this situation, a driverless car will have to make a decision that many folks think only a human should make: should you stay the course and hit the bus, or veer onto the sidewalk?


The Lab cites a prediction from the UN saying that 70 percent of the world’s population will live in an urban area by 2030, substantially affecting housing and population density. In order to thrive, mobility solutions will need to adapt to this increasingly complex environment.

TopSpeed’s Take

This is where autonomous vehicles will truly start to take off. Getting around the mega-city of the future will require nano-second reflexes and intense information immersion, and if it’s left up to the easily distractible human brain, stagnation will be the result.

Neo Frontierism

Overpopulation will usher in a new period of exploration, with the frontiers of space, sky, underwater, and underground opening up for human integration. As such, mobility will need to adapt to these new environments.

TopSpeed’s Take

Levitating cars? Submersible vehicles? Underground race tracks? Moon bases?
Count us in.

Source: Hyundai

Press Release

Hyundai Motor Establishes Project IONIQ Lab to Drive Future Mobility Innovation

· Project IONIQ Lab gathers top academics to forecast trends of future mobility
· Lab identifies megatrends likely to impact the car industry in 2030
· Through Project IONIQ Lab, Hyundai Motor works to enhance the lives of its customers

July 22, 2016 – Hyundai Motor has set out the structure, focus and first ideas of its newly-established Project IONIQ Lab in Korea. Project IONIQ Lab sets out to explore future mobility solutions through innovation, research and academic projects. It is a part of Hyundai Motor’s Project IONIQ, a long-term research and development project that predict changes in future mobility announced previously in this year’s Geneva Motor Show.

The open innovation organization enables cooperation among Hyundai Motor, academic bodies and universities. Through the Lab, Hyundai Motor will work to suggest ideas for innovative technologies and concepts of future mobility that will enrich our daily lives.

Wonhong Cho, Executive Vice President of Hyundai Motor Company said: “We are happy to announce the opening of the ‘Project IONIQ Lab’, which extends our efforts to understand future mobility and influence the concept of ‘freedom in mobility’. Hyundai Motor will advance theoretical and practical understanding, innovating to develop future mobility solutions tailored to our customers’ lifestyles.”

The Lab will explore four key areas: freedom to use mobility whenever and wherever; freedom to connect to everyday life while on the move; freedom from accidents and inconveniences; and freedom from environmental pollution and energy exhaustion.

The Project IONIQ Lab will be led by Dr. Soon Jong Lee, Professor of Seoul National University and Head of Korea Future Design & Research Institute, who will be supported by 10 researchers and 10 consultant experts. The group has already issued its first collective output, a summary of *12 future ‘megatrends’ that are likely to affect the car industry in 2030.

From a ‘hyper-connected society’ and ‘eco-ism’ to the ‘decentralization of power’ and ‘mega-urbanization’ the megatrends set out the Project IONIQ Lab’s vision of the world, explaining how mobility will interact with each trend.

Through the new Project IONIQ Lab, Hyundai Motor will predict changes in future mobility and study possible scenarios; develop new types of mobility according to changes in society and people’s lifestyles; and create new service models and mobility experiences to extend the role and definition of ‘cars’.

*Details of 12 future ‘megatrends’ are described as below :

01. Hyper-connected Society
Technological evolution in the fields of Cloud Computing and Big Data Analysis, together with Network technology for which IoT is one of the representing technologies, are forecasted to increase data transmission speed by an enormous ratio. This will result in a shift into a “Hyper-connected society”, a time when people get/are connected to things and the society on a real-time basis. -Mobility is expected to become a focal point in the “Hyper-connected society” with the influence of ICT innovation that is being actively applied to the automotive industry. Therefore, with entering the V2X generation/time, it is becoming more and more important to deeply examine/analyze what kinds of information and resources mobility will be exchanging with people and infra.

02. Hyper-aging Society
In 2030, most of developed countries are expected to be hyper-aging society of which ratio of 65 years old or older is 21% or more due to low birth rate and a rapidly aging population. Under this circumstance, strategy to target the baby boom generation will be increasingly important as they will become majority of the market.
Accordingly, future mobility is expected to cope with primary value of the elderly such as health, healing, communication, etc. Especially new type of mobility such as wearable robot will be introduced in the market as elder people need to maintain their own activity while they will be regarded as a core target in providing in-car services or diverse auto-related services such as car-sharing, ride-hailing, etc.

03. Eco-ism
Needs for alternative energy is increasing due to worldwide and governmental initiative to sort out environmental issues such as global warming, climate change, fossil fuel depletion, etc. -Most of the countries will impose stricter environmental regulation and it will lead to more construction for infrastructure driven by government and technical progress in utilizing alternative energy, increasing energy efficiency, etc.
Following this trend, various mobility products that only consume eco-friendly energy or has low power or energy consumption will be in the market requiring sufficient infrastructure to support this. Manufactures or transportation providers are expected to deal with this by developing eco-technologies to meet the relevant regulations.

04. Multi-Layered Mash-up
Compared to conventional industrial convergence, ‘Multi-Layered Mash-up’ leads to merge of value chains from several different industries. And then each unit of value chain of any industry will be improved further by taking advantage of several areas such as technology, culture, science, art and etc. It becomes increasingly possible due to advance in MR(mixed reality) and ICT technology which lessens limitation in time and space and tackles barriers among industries.-In auto industry, mobility’s role as a space is going to expand offering seamless user experience as mobility will be less limited too. In addition, it will be possible to search new business opportunities by collaborating with various industries and areas.

05. Context-Awareness based Individualization
Context cognition technology is able to provide customized information making use of biological and emotional signal of users and the meaning of spaces to users without users’ being aware of the processing. It is far beyond the current stage which depends on the information that users input and will be able to design and propose personal life-style of the future.
With this progressive contextual curation based on AI technology, hyper-individualized mobility which offers various in-car services that reacts to personal condition and emotional states in real-time by will be in the market.

06. High Concept Society
High concepts relates to identifying patterns and opportunities, appreciating artistic and emotional beauty, and combining what appears to be unrelated ideas into strong innovative actionable ideas. As manufacturing capability is standardized due to disruptive manufacturing revolution such as open source, 3d printing technology, cloud sourcing and etc., creativity by converging stories and ideas that are appealing in emotional ways will be crucial. And capabilities indigenous to humans which is not replaceable by AI will be spotlighted and even more developed.
This trend will make companies fragile to produce creativity collapse as it lowers barriers of entry of conventional industries.
Consequently open-sourced mobility manufacturing system based on convergence between technology and art, aesthetics, etc will enable consumers to realize their own ideas and creativity leading private-manufacturing market to a rise.

07. Decentralization of Power
The boundaries typically associated with global, local, mainstream, and alternative cultures are starting to blur as network technologies become more open and inclusive. This blurring also facilitates an emergent period for various minority groups, allowing their normally overshadowed concerns to come to the spotlight.
In addition, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterized by technological convergence and the coalescence of the physical and virtual realms, will only accelerate this trend of diversification. The rising of various minority groups will upset the global status quo perpetuated by various governments, corporations, and key technologies and result in an intensified and expedited competition for leadership. Once a leader emerges for each link in the new value chain, convergence and cooperation will be the core values that guide the following industrial age.

08. Anxiety and Chaos
Societal anxiety and chaos are being driven by unrelenting technological evolution, causing such as cyber terrorism/crime, class polarization, techno-stress, and generational conflict to sharply increase. In addition, advancements in AI are threatening to markedly increase competition across the entirety of human society.
In light of these pressures, consumers will demand spaces and experiences that empathize and alleviate their anxieties. Mobility as a healing medium will become more important, no longer will it be simply a means of transport; it’s spacial value will drastically increase and as a result there must be in-depth research and analysis into utilizing mobility interior spaces more effectively, according to user needs.

09. Sharing Society
Advances in networking technologies have reduced the cost of sharing, lowering the bar for a "sharing economy" and accelerating it’s adoption. This new sharing economy, valuing economic rationality rather than social status, has started to enter the mainstream; goods are valued on their stories, experiences, and other intangible values in this new shared society.-Therefore, it is predicted that future mobility, based on efficiency and economic viability, will appeal to this new shared economy by developing and implementing on-demand services or platforms that maximize the user’s mobility experiences. A mutually beneficial sharing foundation that is capable of advancing common interest must be laid

10. Co-Evolution
As AI and robotics developments begin to supplant human labor and develop emotive capabilities, humans to will be able to exchange thoughts and emotions with AI, resulting in convergence. While future robots may increase convenience for human beings, it may offset that by tipping cost efficiency against human labor on an unprecedented scale. Therefore, if humans are to find value in this new labor hierarchy, there must be interaction and mutual cooperation with AI to bring about result and further development.
In terms of mobility, AI will mean perfect understanding between vehicle and machine, resulting in services that result in emotional bonding. Autonomous vehicle systems will also hard-override human errors in ability or judgement, and mobility as a whole will drastically reinvent its own value systems. In addition, it has become imperative to establish ethical rules for future mobility systems in order to assure safety, efficiency, and control.

11. Mega-Urbanization
The UN predicts that by 2030, approximately 70% of the world population, 4.9 billion people, will be living in urban areas. It is expected that this rise of megacities will have major effects on urbanite mobility and housing patterns. Having tens of millions of people residing in increasingly denser areas raises issues concerning energy shortages, traffic congestion, pollution, further polarization, and a variety of others. It follows that people’s needs, preferences, and methods of transport will all change in accordance, drastically changing every aspect of public transportation, including hardware, software, and the services themselves.

12. Neo Frontierism
In order to alleviate problems that come with overcrowding, new concepts driven by the advancement of drone technology will open the skies to development. The final frontier of Earth, the oceans and subterranean areas will also see a renewed period of pioneering. While humans extend their influences in the air, underwater, space, and the Earth itself, various industries such as energy, construction, IT, and mobility will innovate heavily in stride. The expansion of humanity’s physical domain presents a vast opportunity for the mobility industry to diversify and expand into.

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