Hyundai-Motional IONIQ 5 Robotaxi To Be Built In Singapore

The first production-spec IONIQ 5 robot axis built in Singapore will be deployed in the US in 2024. 

While Hyundai’s local manufacturing presence in Malaysia was once quite substantial, its contract with Inokom has since been reduced to only locally-assembling its Santa Fe large SUV over here, and the outgoing generation at that too. 

So with this in mind, it would be rather frustrating as a Malaysian to hear that things really couldn’t be more different just across the causeway for the South Korean automaker. That is as Hyundai and Motional has just celebrated the imminent production of its jointly-developed IONIQ 5 robotaxi, which will be rolling out of its recently opened Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center Singapore (HMGICS). 

One of the first SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicles (AVs) to be certified under the U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), these highly-technical EVs manufactured in the tiny island nation will soon be deployed as part of Motional’s commercial services in the U.S. starting in 2024. The certification is a testament to the vehicle’s incredibly thorough development and testing program, its safety and reliability, and the sophistication of the autonomous technology, according to Motional President and CEO Karl Iagnemma.

“HMGICS is a vision for transportation innovation,” Iagnemma said. “We’re enormously proud to have the IONIQ 5 robotaxi manufactured at this facility and look forward to introducing the world to some of the first-ever FMVSS-certified autonomous vehicles. It’s through the strength of our collaboration with Hyundai that we were able to develop an industry-leading robotaxi that meets rigorous federal standards and is ready for mass commercialization.”

Commenting on HMGICS’ role in bringing the IONIQ 5 robotaxi from development to production reality meanwhile, CEO of HMGICS, Hong Bum Jung, said: “HMGICS stands as Hyundai Motor Group’s first global innovation hub and global test bed for future mobility. Our mission at HMGICS is to revolutionize the mobility value chain by developing and producing advanced and diverse forms of future mobility solutions. Commencing production of the IONIQ 5 robotaxi in collaboration with Motional, we are committed to a continuous journey of innovation, aiming to spearhead the paradigm shift in the future of mobility.”

Now speaking more about the newly opened HMGICS, Hyundai claims for this new Singapore hub to serve as a test bed and a global open innovation space that aims to develop new EV business models, forge innovative partnerships, produce mobility products, and develop the Group’s intelligent manufacturing platform to revolutionise the overall sustainable mobility value chain. Established with the intent of revolutionising the future mobility value chain, the Center utilises the latest Industry 4.0 smart technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics with deep expertise in smart mobility solutions and smart automotive manufacturing solutions.

An endeavour that was first announced by the South Korean automaker in 2020, Hyundai touts for HMGICS combines advanced automation and real-time monitoring and data evaluation to push the boundaries of what’s possible in production. It’s also equipped with advanced features bespoke to HMGICS to support AV production, including testing facilities and a calibration center. 

As for Motional’s role in the production process, the driverless technology company has deployed a team on site to assist with production. These employees are located at the Autonomous Vehicle Integration Center and will perform critical diagnostics, software development, calibration and validation tasks to ensure that finished examples of the IONIQ 5 robotaxi meet exacting specifications and are ready for deployment.

Motional and Hyundai have apparently been preparing for the production of the breakthrough IONIQ 5 robotaxi for several years, including the development of a limited series of prototype vehicles that have been tested in the U.S. and Singapore for over a year. The initial prototype fleet of robotaxis recently completed a series of evaluations designed to demonstrate the quality, performance, and maturity of the robotaxi and its autonomous driving technology.

The stinging question that should be asked here is why did Hyundai open up its high-tech facility over in Singapore instead of Malaysia, where the South Korean automaker already had a substantial business presence and manufacturing ties. Though even the most hopeful of Malaysians would probably have at least a few depressingly obvious answers to that already…

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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