August 16, 2022

As cars become electrified and connected, another controversy arises. Once vehicles can drive reliably at level 5, should we continue to own them? Some smart city visions of the future predict that public transport services and self-driving taxis will take full ownership of the personal car. But when I spoke to Youngcho Chi, president and chief innovation officer of Hyundai Motor Group (HMG), he still thought there would be many more people with cars in their driveways for years to come.

Che was offering it HMG’s Smart City Vision at the World Cities Summit 2022 in Singapore. “The idea was to revitalize cities by redefining urban boundaries,” Che says. “We envision a human-centric city. It exists alongside nature, embracing the technology of the future. It is a hexagonal city with a human center, surface layer and underground space, where jobs are concentrated. Road infrastructure connects the city through autonomous mobility and logistics. It is enabled The city is further enhanced by advanced urban air mobility and hydrogen fuel cell generators, which not only make it well connected, but also make it more sustainable.”

HMG is developing a prototype of some of these ideas in Singapore, within the island nation’s Jurong region. “We are working on a transportation model to forecast demand over the next 10 to 15 years, which includes mobility options that are not currently available, such as robotics and other forms of personal mobility,” Chi says. “Once this pilot project is completed, we hope to collaborate on a broader topic, such as recommendations for autonomous vehicle infrastructure as well as next-generation logistics infrastructure. We believe in global mobility, where everyone has fair and easy access to transportation.”

The concept also includes a lot of thought around accessibility, including independent wheelchairs to help transport people with disabilities. From these descriptions, it appears that HMG Smart City’s vision does not include the personal transportation model we’ve been accustomed to over the past 100 years. But Che stresses that this is not the case. Instead, he sees mobility requires a wider variety of solutions than before: “We think fuel cell vehicles have a place, but that will be more for longer range because their refueling times are shorter than electric vehicles, making them ideal for charging to move payloads. Heavy duty trucks. We believe that in the future, in our cities, we will have a mix of electric and fuel cell vehicles that serve different types of mobility needs.”

However, although autonomy is rapidly developing, full Level 5 autonomous driving is still at some point in the future. “A car without a steering wheel and pedals is going to be another 10 or 20 years to come,” Chi says. “But Level 4 is ready. And we are at a point where we believe the use cases as a service and their role in a smart city are important. It is very important for the next generation of logistics, like robot delivery.”

To help with these plans, HMG now owns A subsidiary of eVTOL called Supernaloperating on electric air transport. In 2021, the company also bought Boston Dynamics, the company behind the notorious Robot dog called Spot Popular in many videos. HMG is also collaborating with US company Motional to develop autonomous driving capabilities. Motional is currently testing Level 4 in Las Vegas. “Our cars already have Level 2 or Level 3 capabilities,” Chi says.

These jobs will help change the way people travel in cities. “We think a shift away from car ownership is an inevitable trend,” Che says. But private car ownership itself will not go extinct. It is hard not to be influenced by the measures aimed at reducing car ownership by different governments and how cities are designed with minimal parking spaces. For this reason, we have expanded our horizons from just selling cars to providing transportation as a service and becoming a provider of mobility solutions and also providing services in addition to the car. We are expanding from ground to air mobility.”

However, Hyundai is unlikely to welcome the demise of the personal car market any time soon. After all, in 2021, HMG ranked fourth in the world in terms of sales volume across all of its brands (including Kia and origin as well as Hyundai), surpassing General Motors. HMG ranks fifth globally in all-electric vehicle sales as well, with 5% of the market. Popular launches like Ionic 5Kia EV6 imminent Ionic 6 It could help propel HMG to the top of the electric vehicle ratings, and put the company in a great position to switch to electric mobility.

“The total number of cars sold worldwide may continue to decline, as has been proven over the past few years due to the emergence of car sharing companies and car recall companies,” Chi says. “But people love to drive, especially people who have been driving for ten, 20 or 30 years. There is a lot of fun having a custom car in a different color and different wheels. A lot of people will continue to buy cars.”

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