Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors on Tuesday opened their creative economy innovation center in Gwangju. The Gwangju center is the nation’s sixth creative innovation center, following Samsung Group’s Daegu and North Gyeongsang centers, SK Group’s Daejeon center, Hyosung Group’s North Jeolla center, and Posco’s Pohang center.
They are all part of the Korean government’s creative economy initiative, in which large conglomerates in each industry are matched with regions to help boost sagging local economies by assisting small and midsize companies and start-ups based there with cutting-edge technologies and business networks. Hyundai and Kia were matched with Gwangju because they have been doing business there for decades.
The Gwangju center will mainly focus on enhancing the regional economy in Gwangju and South Jeolla by researching eco-friendly automotive technologies such as hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and hybrid cars. Of 17 creative innovation centers planned by the government, the Gwangju center is the largest in size, at about 1,190 square meters.
Hyundai Motor Group on Monday announced a new investment plan worth 1.12 trillion won ($1 billion) as part of its efforts to elevate its competitiveness in next-generation automotive material development. The Korean auto giant, which owns the Hyundai and Kia brands, said it would build two factories that produce specialty steel and high-quality iron powder ― the two key materials used in vehicle engines and transmissions.
The latest investment plan, the carmaker said, comes as a growing number of global automotive companies are teaming up with auto parts manufacturers with an aim to secure their competitive edge in the market.
Hyundai Steel, the second-largest Korean steelmaker and a Hyundai affiliate, plans to complete the construction work of the specialty steel plant by September near its Dangjin steel mill in South Chungcheong Province. Its production is scheduled to start in the latter half of this year, with an annual output nearing 1 million tons.
South Korea’s largest automotive group Hyundai Motor Group will invest a record 10 trillion won ($9.45 billion) in the car business alone this year. This year’s planned investment increased 500 billion won from that of last year.
The group is forecast to focus on investing in research and development (R&D) this year as it decided to boost investment without a plan to build new plants, unlike it did last year.
Hyundai Motor Group said Tuesday it decided to invest 10 trillion won in the group’s automobile business including Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, Hyundai Mobis, Hyundai Kefico, and Hyundai Autron this year. Last year, the group had made investment worth 9.50 trillion won in the car business. The group’s investment in the automobile segment this year will be devoted to research facilities which have been restructured in the beginning of this year. In other words, most of the funds will be spent on R&D and quality control.
Korea’s thriving IT and automobile industries have served as life-savers for struggling chemical firms in the second quarter by feeding them much-needed business, according to local companies.
SK Chemicals said yesterday the automobile sector is becoming an alternative market for chemical firms at a sluggish time in the industry.
The company said its sales of chemical materials for vehicles jumped by 15 percent on-year to 21.7 billion won ($19 million).
It saw sales of Skynova, a sound-absorbing material used in the floor of cars and as an engine cover, grow by more than 30 percent on-year, the company said. Overseas sales accounted for 60 percent of the material’s total revenues, which stood at 14.8 billion won in Q2.
Your smartphone vibrates. As you pull it out of your pocket, the following message flashes across the screen: Your vehicle is being broken into.
This futuristic scenario may soon become a reality for owners of Korean cars, according to Hyundai Motor, which rolled out a number of test models this week showing off its experiments with government-subsidized IT innovations by small companies.
Of the four models presented to the media on Wednesday, only one, the third and latest edition of Hyundai’s popular midsized crossover Sante Fe, a sport utility vehicle, is now available on the market.
It features two new breakthroughs that enable the owner to lock and unlock their vehicle from afar, such as inside their office. They can also gun the engine from a long-range just by pressing a few buttons on their phone – particularly useful on a cold winter’s day.
Hyundai Heavy Industries is venturing into the lithium-ion battery market for electric cars, hoping to bask in the soaring demand for long-range, environmentally friendly next-generation vehicles.
The world’s largest shipyard said it clinched an agreement Monday with Canadian auto parts maker Magna E-Car Systems to launch a $200 million joint venture. The Korean company would take a 40 percent stake and the Ontario-based firm the remainder.
Magna E-Car is another partnership between Magna International Inc. and the Stronach Group, a private company owned by Frank Stronach, who founded North America’s top car parts supplier. Magna E-Car supplies the powertrain to Ford Motor Co. for the plug-in version of its Ford Focus.
Under the plan, Hyundai Heavy and Magna E-Car will carry out joint research and set up a production line in the Canadian province, aiming to churn out 1,000 battery packs annually starting 2014.
The shipbuilder added it will further boost its output to 400,000 by 2018 and 800,000 by 2020 by building an additional eight plants in Europe and North America. It targets a 30 percent share in the electric car market in the regions by 2020.
A refrigerator by LG Electronics is linked to smart devices. When receipts and bar codes of groceries are scanned with a smartphone, the list of items bought is automatically sent to the refrigerator. Information such as expiration dates or recipes are sent to the handsets. “Smart Home Net” solution by Samsung Electronics connects home appliances with smartphones so that they can automatically be checked and receive upgrades.
They are examples of “smart hybrids,” where diverse products, ranging from home appliances to cars, are being linked with devices like smartphones and tablets to turn smart.
Heo Jeong-wook, a researcher at KT Economic and Business Research Institute, notes in a report that smart hybrids are increasingly being chosen by manufacturers as an easier and more effective way of making their products smarter, instead of producing appliances that are smart themselves.
“An increasing number of consumers are becoming accustomed to smart devices. However, the debut of new electronics devices cause “technology stress,” Heo said. According to a Job Korea survey, one third of salaried workers said they feel anxious because they are not used to or don’t know how to properly use computers and the latest technology. They are, meanwhile, good at using smartphones, with three out of ten spending over three hours a day on them. He added that around 40 percent of Americans were using smartphones last year. Korean Internet users spend 2.2 hours a day online, and they log on to the Web through smartphones rather than desktop computers.
People now want to control other appliances with their phones and tablets. “There has emerged a one-device multi service paradigm, amid the expansion of smart hybrid devices,” Heo said.
Korea’s automobile and information technology (IT) industries are expected to enjoy strong growth in the second quarter of this year, underpinned by growing overseas demand, a report showed Sunday.
The country’s shipbuilding, construction and pharmaceutical industries, however, are bracing for deteriorating business conditions triggered by sluggish overseas orders and a weak domestic property market, according to the report by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).
Exports of South Korean cars are forecast to grow in the three-month period fueled by free trade agreements (FTA) with advanced industrialized economies, a lower excise tax on mid-size vehicles and the release of new models.
The KCCI also said the popularity of smartphones, tablet PCs and organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) made by local companies will buoy the IT sector. The Summer Olympics in London in July could also stimulate the global digital electronics market.
Hyundai Motor Group, which owns both Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, sold over 1.13 million vehicles in the United States last year, breaking the 1-million-plateau for the first time in the world’s most important market.
GM Korea, which introduced the Chevrolet brand last March, launched eight new cars in Korea in nine months and achieved record high sales.
Renault Samsung Motors emerged as French automaker Renault’s strategic center in Asia, exporting more than 137,000 of its key models with the Renault badge ― up 19 percent from a year ago despite disruptions in supply of auto parts after the massive earthquake in Japan.
Kia’s K5 sedan and Sportage R SUV swept major international design awards while Hyundai’s YF Sonata became the best-selling Korean car ever in the United States and China largely because of its design.
The Automotive Practice Asia Pacific at Frost & Sullivan said that the South Korean telematics market is expected to reach the advanced growth phase from 2012 to 2015. They noted that the commercial vehicle telematics market in South Korea is mainly driven by the aftermarket as original equipment (OE) telematics service is not available currently.
“Hyundai is likely to enter the OE-CV telematics market space in coming years. It is estimated that the market share of OE-CV telematics to be 10 percent by 2017 in South Korea,” Ms. Yun (Research Analyst, Automotive Practice Asia Pacific at Frost & Sullivan)said.
She added that penetration rate of the commercial vehicle telematics is expected to increase in South Korea as the Government plans to make the installation of vehicle black boxes in commercial vehicles mandatory. The total registered commercial vehicles in South Korea were estimated at 4.3 million units in 2010.