A combined investment of US$110m has been committed (Hyundai will contribute US$88 million; Kia US$22 million) in partnership with UK-based electric vehicle startup, Arrival. It turns out delivery vehicles could be the "Trojan horse" for electric to really take off.
Arrival, on the other hand, will benefit from the large OEM's scope and market access, as Denis Sverdlov, founder and CEO of the company, specified: "Arrival has created a game changing product category - Generation 2 Electric Vehicles".
In 2019, Hyundai and Kia invested $89 million in Rimac Automobili, a nine-year-old Croatian firm aspiring to develop electric supercars that can be financed by Porsche. "This strategic partnership will empower our companies to scale Generation 2 Electric Vehicles globally", said Sverdlov.
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"The partnership with Arrival will help Hyundai and Kia meet the rapidly growing demand in Europe for eco-friendly commercial vehicles, and accelerate the brands' transformation from auto makers to clean-mobility providers", it said.
The use of the microfactory concept is possible as rather than using traditional assembly line processes the company has developed a modular design which means that robots can be used to assemble a van in a single location.
With the rapid global growth in online shopping, the volume of light commercial vehicles in urban areas has increased. Demand for eco-friendly commercial vehicles is expected to rise as governments tighten environmental regulations further, the statement said. From 2021, the European Union will introduce the world's most stringent vehicle emissions regulations, cutting each automaker's fleet-wide average Carbon dioxide emissions by around 27%, from 130 g/km to 95 g/km.
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The investment in Arrival is the latest from Hyundai and Kia.
The two companies will use key Arrival technologies to help achieve their recently announced goal to develop mobility services and electrify their vehicle fleets.
Youngcho Chi, Hyundai Head of Innovation, said: "This investment is part of an open innovation strategy pursued by Hyundai and Kia". Together the partnership represents a potentially winning combination to enable the imminent delivery of the next generation of scalable, goal built electric mobility solutions. The investment marks the start of a strategic partnership between the automakers to jointly accelerate the adoption of commercial e-vehicles globally. The company is conducting a number of pilot programs with a number of logistics companies in Europe, according to the announcement.
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Hyundai and Kia have a shared ownership structure but target slightly different markets and demographics. The objective of the project is to form electric vehicles at a similar rate to conventional gasoline-fueled automobiles.