South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Company is ramping up its production capabilities as it aims to become one of the world’s top three electric vehicle manufacturers by 2030.
The automaker is investing heavily in research and development, building new plants and platforms as well as expanding EV lines and production capacity.
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“We are now developing two more platforms and that will enable us to have 18 models by 2030. And we are [aiming] to achieve 2 million [annual] EV sales around 2030,” Hyundai Motor Company’s CEO Jaehoon Chang told CNBC’s Chery Kang.
Its EVs are currently developed on an advanced bespoke EV platform, the Hyundai Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP). The 2021 Ioniq 5 crossover SUV was the first model in Hyundai’s EV-focused sub-brand Ioniq to be developed on the E-GMP. Hyundai subsequently launched the Ioniq 6 sedan model in 2022. An EV platform scales the production of future models and reduces development and manufacturing costs.
“It is important that we have a dedicated EV platform. Our EV platform, which is the E-GMP, is a strong enabler to ensure the EV’s performance, reliability and usability. I think this is a very strong enabler for the future as well,” said Chang.
Hyundai plans to introduce vehicles in 2025 based on its two new EV platforms, eM and eS, which are expected to lead to more efficient vehicle development and greater cost reductions.
Hyundai Motor Group, whose brands include Hyundai, Kia and Genesis, nabbed sixth place in SNE Research’s global EV sales ranking for 2022. It delivered 510,000 EV units last year, up 40.9% from 2021, according to SNE Research. First place went to China’s BYD, which delivered 1.87 million units, followed by Tesla with 1.31 million units. Germany’s Volkswagen and China’s Geely took fourth and fifth places, respectively.
“During the last three years, our EBIT growth is 50% every year. This is mainly driven by our products, especially Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6, which are well-perceived by the customers …,” said Chang.
“We can continue the momentum. We have another EV, Ioniq 7, the three-row largest SUV, in our pipeline for next year. So this is a short-term perspective of what we are doing,” said Chang.
Once a struggling brand, Hyundai Motor Group has quietly slipped in behind powerhouses Toyota and Volkswagen to become the world’s third-largest automaker by sales in 2022, according to data released by the automakers. Hyundai and Kia sold a total of 6.85 million vehicles globally last year, up 2.7% from a year ago. Toyota sold nearly 10.5 million units while Volkswagen sold about 8.26 million units.
Hyundai reported a 92% year-on-year increase in net profit for the first quarter of 2023, “mainly driven by the U.S. and the Europe,” said Chang.
Net profit came in at 3.42 trillion won ($2.56 billion), up from 1.78 trillion won in the same period a year ago. Revenue climbed 24.7% year-on-year, from 30.3 trillion won to 37.78 trillion won.
Hyundai eventually wants to penetrate China’s consumer market, where the company’s exposure is “very much limited at this moment,” said Chang.
“We have a joint venture in China. We are now on a deep dive on how we can regain the competitiveness of the China market,” said Chang. China’s EV sales are expected to hit more than 8 million units in 2023, according to Counterpoint Research.
“I think the first step that we’re looking at is how we can optimize the operational capacity in China. And the next step should be our focus on the product portfolio, which should be attractive to local customers with the comparable software functions, as well as hardware and design features,” said Chang.
Domestically, Hyundai said it plans to invest 24 trillion won in South Korea’s EV industry by 2030.
To compete with Tesla and Ford, Hyundai is building a $5.5-billion EV plant with South Korean battery maker SK On in Georgia to supply batteries for Hyundai and Kia EVs assembled in the U.S. The new plant is set to begin producing up to 300,000 EVs per year starting from 2025.
The investment is also being driven by the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, which offers $7,500 tax credits if the vehicle and its batteries are assembled in the U.S. Hyundai currently has no EV plant in the U.S.