SEOUL (Auto News): Hyundai Motor is in discussions with Google about further partnerships as the automaker seeks external expertise to remain competitive.
The two companies have some common areas that may require cooperation, Hyundai Motor President Jeong Jin Haeng said after a meeting between the trade ministry and local automakers.
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Hyundai has been among the most active automakers adopting Apple’s CarPlay and Google parent Alphabet’s Android Auto, which integrate iPhone and Android handsets with car dashboards.
Jeong didn’t give further details or confirm if the automaker is considering developing autonomous cars with Google.
Unlike rival automakers, Hyundai and affiliate Kia Motors have shunned joint ventures or alliances to make high-cost, low-volume sports cars and electric vehicles. Hyundai is now seeking to transform its go-it-alone strategy and become more open to tie-ups with tech upstarts and Silicon Valley giants to stay relevant in the coming era of connected cars and autonomous driving.
“Hyundai is lagging behind the competition to develop autonomous vehicles,” said Ko Tae Bong, senior auto analyst at Hi Investment & Securities Co. “It’s not a choice but a critical prerequisite for Hyundai to cooperate with IT companies, such as Google, to survive in the near future.”
Any potential collaboration between the two companies may be aided by John Krafcik, the former Hyundai U.S. chief who joined Google in 2015 to lead its self-driving car project.
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Google’s self-driving car unit has logged more than 1.7 million miles of autonomous driving in the U.S. with its own prototypes, but the technology company has said it has no timetable for making self-driving vehicles available to the public.
However, in May, Google said it had agreed to work together with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to build a fleet of 100 self-driving minivans, marking the first time a Silicon Valley company had teamed up with a traditional automaker to develop an autonomous vehicle.
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