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South Korea looks to strengthen position in global autonomous vehicles market with billion-dollar investment

South Korea is looking to strengthen its position in the global autonomous vehicles market with an investment of 1.1 trillion South Korean won, which equates to about $1 billion.

The investment calls for the development of “level 4” autonomous cars, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT, according to a report on the Korean Times website.

Level 4 autonomy – as defined by the SAE – means that a car is capable of driving itself but is designed to be ultimately controlled by a human driver.

The initiative will accelerate the emergence of autonomous vehicles in the country and beyond, according to experts at research consultancy GlobalData.

Bakar Sadik Agwan, senior automotive consulting analyst at GlobalData, says: “In 2019, South Korea committed $50.7 billion to the autonomous vehicles industry by 2025 along with top OEMs, and later in 2020 further announced $896 million for the development of high automation technologies.

“The latest investment, which is focused on developing self-driving technologies as well as infrastructure development, will bring in several state ministry/agencies together to jointly finance autonomous projects and expedite their commercialization.

“The move unfolds significant opportunities and South Korea can gain competitive edge over the US and Europe. The growing de-dieselization and increasing prevalence of e-mobility globally paves way for commercialization of autonomous vehicles as the next milestone to be achieved.

“Furthermore, the presence of leading automotive groups such as Hyundai and tech companies such as Samsung, which are already under rigorous R&D around self-driving, strengthens South Korea’s capabilities to commercialize autonomous vehicles quickly.

“The country is already a leader in the mass-produced fuel cell electric heavy-duty trucks globally through Hyundai’s Xcient, and similar can be expected in the commercialization of autonomous technologies.

“South Korea has witnessed significant developments by OEMs, component makers and technology companies over past few years to overcome its technological deficiencies in some areas with foreign partnerships and expedite the autonomous vehicle development.

“The collective efforts will help the country to achieve its target of commercialising Level 4 autonomous vehicles by 2027 and Level 3 vehicles within a year or two.”

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