Hyundai In Talks With Google For Possible Collaboration
Partnership could be beneficial for Korean automaker as it seeks to gain ground on future automotive developmentsby Kirby Garlitos, on
Hyundai is reportedly in talks with tech giant Google for future partnerships between the two brands as the Korean automaker continues its push to remain competitive in the increasingly volatile and chaotic automotive industry.
The discussions with Google are reportedly tied into Hyundai’s new-found of strategy of pursuit of collaborations with tech firms. It’s a dramatic about-face from the automaker’s previous position of staying away from making collaborations and alliances in a bid to remain true to its “do-it-alone” strategy.
But such a strategy has come at a cost for Hyundai, something its president, Jeong Jin Haeng acknowledged to Bloomberg during an interview in Seoul recently. Apparently, Hyundai’s push to become a major player in the realm of autonomous driving vehicles already comes with the disadvantage of not jumping on the bandwagon early enough. Now that companies like Ford, BMW, and Tesla are making some headway in the development of autonomous driving technology, Hyundai is keen on making up lost ground. A possible partnership with Google can go a long way in accomplishing that provided that the two companies come to an agreement on the parameters of their budding relationship.
Jeong didn’t dive into the specifics of what this budding alliance could yield in the future, but there is growing sentiment within the company that launching a partnership with one of the world’s biggest tech firms will go a long way in addressing Hyundai’s objectives, both in the short and long term.
The good news is that the Korean automaker already has somebody in former US chief and now Google exec John Krafcik who can bring the two companies together and formalize a partnership that would be beneficial for both parties.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
Why it matters
If you’re a fan of Hyundai - and Kia too - and you’ve grown frustrated at the sometimes stubborn nature of the Korean automaker, this news is a huge breath of fresh air for a multitude of reasons.
As I said earlier, Hyundai has never been the type of company to routinely seek help from outside companies when it comes to developing new technologies. It’s come along this far and it has risen to the level that it has on that strategy, but a big part of maintaining the growth and moving into another level is to continue towards that path of innovation.
Unfortunately for Hyundai, that path has come to a crossroads as more and more automakers are venturing into partnerships to bolster their own research and technological development. Either Hyundai sticks with its roots and risk losing ground to its rivals or it joins up with a partner and develop these technologies together.
Now I don’t know for certain what a Hyundai-Google alliance could look like but, president Jeong did tell Bloomberg that the companies “have some common areas that may require cooperation.”
The obvious area would be autonomous driving technology, which is currently the most talked-about and widely-discussed development in the industry today. Google itself is venturing into that frontier, having already amassed a small feat of prototypes equipped with autonomous driving technology.
That said, the tech giant is also aware that having an actual automaker as a partner would make it a lot easier for the company to accelerate its own research and development in that area. It already has partnerships with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles but that shouldn’t dissuade it from striking a separate deal with Hyundai knowing that the Korean automaker is already lagging behind its rivals in that particular area.
It’s also worth noting that John Krafcik, the man who once helmed Hyundai USA, is now Google’s autonomous cars boss. It’s hardly a coincidence that the two are discussing a partnership and one of the automaker’s most prominent execs now leading the charge on the other side.
All signs point to a collaboration between Hyundai and Google on autonomous driving technology. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing they’ll be doing together. The two firms could also be discussing ways on how to improve Hyundai’s in-car technologies. That’s a possibility too considering that Hyundai has been aggressive in integrating Google’s Android software into its own infotainment systems.
Whatever comes out of this partnership can be regarded as a positive sign for both parties and their willingness to strike up an alliance for the sake of developing new technologies that could very well shape the future of the auto industry.