Hyundai Motor beefs up electronics
By Kim Tae-gyu
Hyundai Motor Group plans to launch an affiliate today, which will focus on in-vehicle electronics systems and devices such as non-memory semiconductors design, software and telecommunications.
The country’s largest automaker said Sunday that the new subsidiary will be named Hyundai Autron, a combination of automotive and electronics, and start out with 200-plus researchers.
``We will double the number of Autron researchers to around 400 by the end of 2012 and 500 by next year so as to achieve our goal of becoming a global leader in electronic control systems for cars,’’ a Hyundai official said.
``As one of our group’s main research pillars the new affiliate will work on software platforms for electronic controls and designs of in-car semiconductors that have become more significant of late.
Recent sedans have needed hundreds of system semiconductors and a variety of electronic systems, which account for around 20 to 30 percent of the vehicles’ total production cost.
Although Korea is the world’s leader in semiconductors, including memory chips, the country has failed to achieve success in automotive chips because most producers could not achieve economies of scale.
This compares starkly to Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix (formerly Hynix Semiconductor), the world’s top two memory chipmakers, both based in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
``We have already established some knowhow and expertise of electronic control systems thanks to our major units such as Hyundai Mobis and KEFICO. Autron will cooperate with them,’’ the official said.
``Plus, the new outfit will carry out specialized education and consulting so that local industries can see improvement together in in-vehicle software and chips.’’
The Seoul-based conglomerate has fixed its eyes on the electronics system for cars as demonstrated by its efforts in 2005 when it set up a joint venture with Siemens, Hyundai Carnes, the predecessor of Autron.
Up until now, Hyundai Motor Group has mostly purchased semiconductors from Infineon Technologies but in the future the carmaker is thinking of designing chips on its own.
It remains to be seen whether it will continue to cooperate with Infineon or find a new partner to make its semiconductors, which will be designed by Autron.
``Hyundai Autron will work on design and development of chips without manufacturing them on its own. We have yet to decide with whom we will cooperate,’’ the official said.