In recent years, more automakers are increasing their efforts to manufacturing cars with more autonomy and, ultimately, fully self-driving capabilities. In March 2020, Hyundai announced that it would be partnering with Aptiv, an auto parts company focused on cleaner automobiles. This joint venture, dubbed Motional, hopes to create self-driving cars for ride-hailing services, according to The Verge.
Testing for these new autonomous vehicles was approved last month in Nevada, according to Bloomberg. Strangely, Hyundai didn’t use its own vehicles for the tests, choosing a popular model from Chrysler instead. Does this mean that Chrysler owns Hyundai or plans to merge in the future?
Hyundai’s self-driving car initiative
The state of Nevada has officially given Motional its blessing to begin testing these self-driving vehicles on city roads. Aptiv started a robotaxi service in 2018, but a human driver was still required behind the wheel. There will be no human driver in Motional’s vehicles, although a human passenger can intervene if necessary.
If these tests are successful, Motional plans to create a robotaxi fleet by 2022. The company chose to use Chrysler Pacifica minivans for the first round of tests. This is probably because a minivan has more functional seating compared to a large SUV, neither of which Hyundai offers.
Even though the choice makes sense from a practical standpoint, many now speculate that Chrysler is in control of Hyundai. This isn’t the first time rumors have told of a merger between the two. In 2017, Hyundai was struggling, particularly because of disagreements between the Korean automaker and its Chinese parts suppliers.
Because of this, a Forbes journalist speculated that Hyundai might be planning to buy FCA. The company has better import sales in China and could have given Hyundai resources to create more crossovers and SUVs. FCA’s interest in Hyundai’s fuel cell technology no doubt encouraged these rumors even more, according to The Drive. However, Hyundai managed to survive on its own, and it even denied the rumors at the time.
A guide to auto industry ownership
Oftentimes, these rumors get started because people don’t understand how ownership works in the car industry. To be fair, it is a little confusing, and new partnerships and mergers can form quickly. The individual auto brand, like Honda or Toyota, is owned by a parent company, usually with the same name.
A parent company like FCA can own multiple brands. This company owns Fiat, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Maserati. While it doesn’t have any plans to acquire Hyundai, a merger with French automaker Peugeot S.A. is on the horizon.
Is it Chrysler that really owns Hyundai?
Currently, Hyundai Motor Corp owns the Hyundai brand. Hyundai Motor Corp was also one of the first brands to buy stock in Kia Motors, with a 51 percent stake in the company. Because of ownership from subsidiary groups, this stake has dropped to 33 percent in recent years.
Hyundai Motor Corp also owns the Genesis brand, the company’s luxury spinoff. Only four models are currently available, but the venture has already proven to be a success. According to Cars.com, Genesis is the most reliable car brand of 2020.
Past partnerships between Hyundai and Chrysler
Hyundai’s use of Chrysler minivans isn’t the start of a merger, but that doesn’t mean the companies aren’t on good terms. These two companies, as well as Mitsubishi Motors, actually created a joint venture between the three of them in 2002. The Global Engine Alliance led to the creation of Chrysler’s World engine and Hyundai’s Theta engine.
The 2.4-liter version of the World engine is still used on the latest models of the Jeep Renegade. The Theta engine is currently used to power many of Hyundai’s cars, including the highly successful Palisade SUV.