Hyundai’s New Chairman Charts High-Tech Future—Without Apple, for Now

Wednesday - 17/02/2021 11:28
Chung Eui-sun earned his M.B.A. in San Francisco during the 1990s dot-com boom and has become one of the auto industry’s most outspoken technologists. PHOTO: SEONGJOON CHO/BLOOMBERG NEWS
Chung Eui-sun earned his M.B.A. in San Francisco during the 1990s dot-com boom and has become one of the auto industry’s most outspoken technologists. PHOTO: SEONGJOON CHO/BLOOMBERG NEWS
Groomed for the job his entire life, the 50-year-old grandson of Hyundai’s founder plans for future beyond gas-guzzling cars

When Hyundai Motor Group ’s new chairman Chung Eui-sun took over last fall, he outlined a bold road map for a future where flying vehicles and robots make up as much business as typical gas-guzzling cars.

A few months later, he would get a big opportunity to reshape the company along his stated design: a potential deal with Apple Inc. to build driverless cars.

Investors cheered a promising union between Apple, the world’s most valuable company, and a new Hyundai with Mr. Chung at the helm. Groomed his entire life to run the auto empire, Mr. Chung, the 50-year-old grandson of Hyundai’s founder, has shirked convention, down to often changing the color on his company car—occasionally opting for gold or navy blue—instead of keeping the standard-issue black. He earned his M.B.A. in San Francisco during the 1990s dot-com boom and has become one of the auto industry’s most outspoken technologists.

But negotiations between the iPhone maker and Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia Corp. broke down, according to South Korean regulatory filings last week. Hyundai’s discussions for self-driving cars continue with unspecified others, according to the filings.

The failure to seal a deal shows how challenging the terrain is for Mr. Chung and Hyundai, if not the broader auto industry itself, struggling to partner up or home-brew solutions for future technologies outside the traditional lines of business.


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