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Hyundai opens high-tech Singapore electric car factory

SINGAPORE (AFP) – Hyundai opened a high-tech electric vehicle (EV) factory in Singapore on Tuesday that the South Korean auto giant said will be a “pillar” of its electrification strategy in the coming decades.

Half of the tasks at the Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Centre Singapore will be done by 200 robots, and it will use new production methods that will move away from traditional conveyor belts, the company said in a statement. The facility, which has been in operation since early this year but formally opened yesterday, can build 30,000 EVs a year, according to the company.

The Singapore plant “will establish itself as one of two Hyundai Motor Group innovation pillars that will lead the company’s future in the electrification era over the next 50 years”, the statement said.

The facility “synchronises the virtual and physical worlds in real time”, enabling humans and robots “to cooperate in ways not seen before”, it added.

Human employees “can simulate tasks in the digital virtual space – or metaverse – while robots physically move components on the production line”.

The robots will do assembly, inspection and production facility organisation and perform more than 60 percent of component process management, ordering and transportation.

This will free up humans to focus on “more creative and productive duties”, the company said.

It did not give a value for the investment but previous media reports put it at SGD400 million (USD300 million).

The facility currently produces the IONIQ 5 electric vehicle and the fully autonomous IONIQ 5 “robotaxi”, which can operate without a driver. Hyundai will start building the IONIQ 6 sedan at the plant from next year.

Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, who spoke at the opening ceremony, noted that decades ago Singapore was an assembly centre for vehicles, but high costs forced auto firms to shift to cheaper countries.

“Now quite unexpectedly we see some high-value automated industries coming back to Singapore again because… there is a paradigm shift in the entire automotive industry,” he said.

President and chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor Chang Jae-hoon speaks at the opening of Hyundai Motor Group’s first smart urban mobility hub in Singapore. PHOTO: AFP