[CES 2018] Q&A: Meet Hyundai heir back stage

By Cho Chung-un
  • Published : Jan 9, 2018 - 17:22
  • Updated : Jan 9, 2018 - 18:21
LAS VEGAS --Addressed as “E. S. Chung,” for the finale of Hyundai Motor’s press conference at the Consumer Electronics Conference held on Monday, Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun, heir to South Korea’s biggest carmaker faced a barrage of questions from reporters covering the event. The 46-year-old who spent many years as the heir to the auto giant said, in fluent English, that the carmaker is competing with major carmakers for future vehicle technology, but is also collaborating with them for market expansion and to secure safety in the course of development. Chung is the ninth richest man in South Korea with his stock valued at $2.2 billion.

Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun (center) answers questions at CES 2018 (Yonhap)

Following are questions and answers of an impromptu interview with Chung backstage at the presentation, also joined by Hyundai’s research and development chief Yang Woong-chul.

Question: What are your strategies?

Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun: The demand is not increasing rapidly but in the future, maybe after 20 years, (fuel cell) EV and FCEV portion is going to increase together. But when we have level 4 around 2025, we (would) need more fuel cellS to process the huge amount of data and energy in the car.

Q: Why that time?

Chung: Most analysts and other motor companies are forecasting about 2025.

Q: Nexo will be sold in California initially. After that, how many other states?

Hyundai R&D chief Yang Woong-chul: It’s supposed to be global sales. Europe is very much enthusiastic, (perhaps) more than the US.

Chung: Northern Europe side. Norway and France, Denmark. France is very aggressive.

Yang: And of course Britain and Germany.

Q: Will fuel cell win eventually?

Yang: It is not about which one is winning or losing. A battery has limits in range, less than 200 kilometer range. Longer drive and heavier cars, buses, trucks are better for (fuel cell).

Chung: Fuel cell can cover up to 800 kilometers and (about) 1,000 kilometers in the future.

Q: How do autonomous vehicles make money? What’s the business case for Hyundai to invest in this?

Chung: (It is) future investment. We have to invest in both EV and FCEV. Safety is most import.

Q: Do you own a piece of Aurora?

Chung: We are working together.

Q: Its unusual when you have a company like Hyundai going into a relationship with Volkswagen.

Yang: This time we have to all work together to make autonomous driving available for the public. We have to work with even OEMs and other supplies. Same as fuel cells.

Chung: Expanding the market it more important. We have to solve problems together about safety issues. It takes time.

Q: How important is this vehicle for the future of Hyundai?

Chung: It’s very important. I think Toyota is working really hard in this area. And r BMW and Volkswagen are interested in this area so all other makers know how important this is. EV and FCEV are both important.

Q: How strong are your capabilities in autonomous driving at this moment?

Yang: As far as OEM is concerned, which is responsible for integrating all those technologies, (and) suppliers, image and data processing (along with) a lot of technology from the sensors, all the software. We have to work closely with suppliers. We are pretty confident because we have many demonstrations going around and even a month later, (we may) showcase the capability. We are a little shy to say we are good.

Chung: I guarantee once you drive it, you’ll like it

Q: Toyota and BMW are working on this. You’ve got to stay competitive, correct?

Chung: We are competing, but we are working together. So we have a long way to go.

Q: Are you still aiming to become the world’s bestselling car company?

Chung: (Laugh) We are trying. We’re working on it.

Hyundai forged a partnership with Aurora, which also holds a separate alliance with Volkswagen. Hyundai doesn‘t have direct partnership with Volkswagen as mentioned in question. This is also a compilation of interviews by reporters at the event. -- Ed

By Cho Chung-un in Las Vegas/ Kim Bo-gyung in Seoul ( (