Head office of Hyundai Motor Group/Courtesy of Hyundai Motor

Silicon Valley is a candidate site

Hyundai Motor Group looks to set up an artificial intelligence (AI) research center outside of the country later this year to raise its competitive edge in the next-generation technology.

The Seoul-based conglomerate said on April 6 that it is checking where to build the AI research center. Included in the candidate sites are Silicon Valley of the United States.

Actually, we came up with the plan earlier this year. We have yet to make detailed decisions, though” a Hyundai official said.

Observers expect that Hyundai would establish multiple AI centers in overseas countries including one at Silicon Valley. But the Hyundai official refused to confirm it.

The idea is in line with Hyundai’s mid-term investment scheme _ it has recently vowed to increase its research spending to more than $40 billion over the next five years.

Under the leadership of Executive Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun, the only son of Chairman Chung Mong-koo, Hyundai has channeled funds and human resources to futuristic technologies like AI and autonomous driving.

In order to survive the tough competition with global automakers, Hyundai has no choice but to bet all in advanced technologies. I even think it’s somewhat late,” Prof. Kim Pil-soo at Daelim University said.

Otherwise, it will not be able to stay afloat as amply demonstrated by its worsening bottom lines of late. Hyundai should go all-out to win out in the rivalry involving new technologies.”

Indeed, Korea’s No. 1 automaker faced disappointing performances last year as its operating income almost halved to just above $2 billion compared to the previous year.

In particular, the company struggled in the world’s two biggest automotive markets of the United States and China.

Hyundai Motor Group is Korea’s second-largest conglomerate, only chasing Samsung Group. Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, and Hyundai Mobis are its flagship subsidiaries.