Could Kia Motors Have Self-Driving Cars in Five Years?


Wow, who thought the joint venture between the Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv would pay off so soon? The recent partnership between one of the industry’s most innovative vehicle technology providers and one of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturers hit the ground running to design, develop, and commercialize SAE Level 4 and 5 autonomous technologies. The South Korean based automobile group, Hyundai Motors, recently held a luncheon session in New York to expand on the $4 billion deal between the two companies. The most exciting news executive vice chairman Chung Euisun shared was that the Hyundai Motor Group will begin the mass production of self-driving cars within the next five years.

That’s still awhile away but it’s nice to know that self-driving cars are still on the horizon for the auto market. When it comes to the partnership between the Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, both companies are holding an equal share of investment, responsibility, and ownership. With the $4 billion total in mind, Aptiv will be contributing its autonomous driving technology, intellectual property, and approximately 700 employees focused on the development of scalable autonomous driving solutions to the joint-venture – this amounts to their share of USD 2 billion. In Hyundai Motors corner, Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors and Hyundai Mobis will start off with a contribution of $0.4 billion in vehicle engineering services, R&D resources, and access to intellectual property, but will collectively pay USD 1.6 billion in cash at closing. Simultaneously, the Hyundai Motor Group holds the same number of shares as Aptiv in their company. Meaning, even after the joint-venture ends, Hyundai Motors and automakers affiliated with it (Kia Motors included) will have the ability to transform itself through the use of Aptiv technology from a mere car manufacturer into a future mobility solutions provider.

“We expect the era of autonomous vehicles to come early, but it will be possible for customers to go anywhere they want in a driverless car after 2030…We [formed a joint venture] because then we can provide [autonomous technology] to other carmakers. [The joint venture] can open all possible opportunities,” – executive vice chairman Chung Euisun

So, what could this mean for the year 2024? Well currently, Aptiv has a commercial autonomous vehicle network working on a global scale, operating more than 100 autonomous vehicles on multiple continents, and even known as a leading ride-hailing network in Las Vegas. Expect that network to expand with the production of SAE Level 4 and 5 autonomous technologies in mass. If that doesn’t sound exciting, here’s a little extra bit of info that may help get the gears turning.

The Society of Automotive Engineers, also known as SAE, has defined what can constitute as an autonomous technology and what cannot. For instance, the highest level of autonomous technology currently found in vehicles available to consumers is Level 2 technology – think emergency automatic breaking. The vehicle will attempt to react if an impending crash is imminent, but the sole responsibility of whether that crash happens or not is on the driver. The well-known self-driving Waymo vehicle could be considered level 3 or Level 4, but because it’s suggested that a safety driver sits in on the drive, we would say it’s closer to level 3 autonomy. Sure, the driver doesn’t need to pay attention, but for safety reasons they should be ready to intervene.

Aptiv on the other hand started working on level 4 self-driving fleets in 2017 and in May 2018 launched the aforementioned Las Vegas network operating on Aptiv’s fully-integrated autonomous driving platform. Level 4 autonomy means the driver can go to sleep and trust that the vehicle will safely bring them home, but this is limited to geo-fenced areas, i.e. not on a global scale. Level 5 autonomy would be level 4 on a larger scale and basically a robotaxi.

Interested in learning more about what else the joint-venture between the Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv could bring to Kia Motors? Follow us on Miami Lakes Kia social media and keep up with what’s new.

Photo Source/Copyright: Aptiv