Hyundai’s new Singapore hub may make up to 30,000 electric cars a year

The innovation centre will also house a small scale EV production facility to test processes using AI and autonomous driving

SINGAPORE • Hyundai Motor Group will invest S$400 million (RM1.22 billion) in a new innovation centre in Singapore that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said may produce up to 30,000 vehicles a year by 2025.

“Automotive activities are becoming viable in Singapore once again,” Lee said in a speech yesterday to mark the virtual groundbreaking ceremony for the centre in the city-state’s west. Electric vehicles (EVs) “have a different supply chain, fewer mechanical parts and more electronics, which plays to Singapore’s strengths”.

The seven-storey building, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2022, is where Hyundai will work on developing artificial intelligence (AI), big data and other technologies to enhance its manufacturing processes, fine-tuning the “brains” behind the smarter and more environmentally friendly cars of tomorrow. The centre will also have a 620m (0.4 mile) driving track near its roof so customers can test-drive the vehicles.

Hyundai will “instil human-centred values” in all stages of a car’s life, from ordering and production to the test drive and service, executive vice chairman of the South Korean conglomerate Euisun Chung said at the event. The company is separately developing flying cars, planning a full line-up of aerial vehicles that it envisages zig-zagging city skies within a decade.

The innovation centre will also house a small scale EV production facility to test processes using AI and autonomous driving. One of the company’s EVs, the Kona, has been recalled in South Korea following multiple reports of battery fires.

“We hope this will open up new growth areas for our economy, and create exciting jobs for Singaporeans, for example, industrial Internet of Things engineers, data scientists, cobot technicians and digital supply chain strategists,” Lee said.

Lee also said the centre marked “an important milestone in the economic relationship between Singapore and South Korea”, paving the way for more Korean firms to invest in the city-state and partner with local suppliers.

Singapore hasn’t had a car manufacturing plant since Ford Motor Co closed its factory several decades ago, effectively ending automobile production on the island. In October last year, vacuum cleaner maker Dyson Ltd abandoned a US$2.5 billion plan to build electric cars in the city-state because it couldn’t find a way of making the project commercially viable.

Tesla Inc, the world’s biggest maker of EVs, has plans to export China-built Model 3 cars to Singa- pore and other places in Asia and Europe from its factory in Shanghai, people familiar with the matter said last month. — Bloomberg