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Hyundai, Samsung seek alliance

Carmaker, electronics company nearing deal to develop ‘smart car’

Hyundai Motor Co. and Samsung Electronics seek to collaborate in developing an automobile-smartphone link-up, sources said Tuesday.

The largest automobile and electronics firms of Korea may sign a memorandum of understanding as early as next week, they said.

The project will enable the built-in table computer on board Hyundai vehicles to link up with smartphones, providing access to the Internet as well as to functions and content on smartphones.

However, public relations officials on both sides said that such issues were under consideration but that details, including the date for signing an MOU, have not been set. Electronics industry officials speculated that the MOU between Hyundai and Samsung is likely to call for a very general collaboration that looks at possible applications of such a link up system rather than in specific areas.

“We have been reviewing such a deal but the situation is not at a stage where we are ready to sign a MOU,” a Hyundai public relations officer said.

“Also, it is not that we are looking to collaborate only with Samsung. There could be other electronics makers involved.”
Lee Kun-hee and Chung Mong-koo
Lee Kun-hee and Chung Mong-koo

The Hyundai official declined to name any potential partners but said that both domestic and foreign companies may be considered depending on conditions that may arise further down the line.

Hyundai is developing a tablet computer that will be installed in vehicles as part of the onboard IT systems.

The carmaker plans to complete developing the device by 2013 and begin rolling out vehicles equipped with the onboard tablet computer in the same year.

While the company is developing the device without outside collaboration, the operating system and other related issues may require cooperation with telecom service providers and electronics makers, a Hyundai official said.

Hyundai is not alone in pushing to introduce technologies linking automobiles to portable IT devices.

SK Telecom is working with Renault Samsung Motors Co. to develop its Mobile-in-Vehicle technology for electric cars.

Similar to the system Hyundai is said to be considering for the joint project with Samsung Electronics, SK Telecom’s MIV allows mobile devices to be linked up to automobile’s IT systems.

For Hyundai, the possible collaboration with Samsung will be the second such joint venture the carmaker has undertaken with a major IT company.

In 2008, Hyundai signed formed a partnership with Microsoft Corp. to develop onboard infotainment systems. The project gave rise to the voice-operated UVO system installed in Kia Motors Corp.’s vehicles sold in the U.S.

By Choi He-suk (