Hydrogen champion Hyundai races to electric as Tesla takes off


By Hyunjoo Jin and Joyce Lee

SEOUL (Reuters) – Hyundai Motor Co <005380.KS>, an early backer of hydrogen cars, has watched the electric rise of Tesla, including on its home turf. Now’s it’s going on the offensive in the battery-powered market led by its U.S. rival.

The South Korean company plans to introduce two production lines dedicated to electrics vehicles (EVs), one next year and another in 2024, according to an internal union newsletter seen by Reuters.

Euisun Chung, leader of the Hyundai Motor Group conglomerate that also includes Kia Motors, has also held a series of meetings since May with his counterparts at Samsung, LG and SK Group, which make batteries and electronic parts.

The purpose of the talks, which were publicly announced, was for Hyundai to try to secure batteries at a time of tight supply as the race for EVs intensifies, according to several industry sources. Those manufacturers also supply the likes of Tesla , Volkswagen and GM .

Hyundai told Reuters it was collaborating with Korean battery suppliers “to scale up” its electric car production efficiently. It declined to comment on any plans to introduce dedicated production lines.

Samsung, LG and SK declined to comment.

The moves indicate the carmaker is moving aggressively to expand its electric capacity, days after Chung announced on July 14 that Hyundai Motor Group aimed to sell 1 million battery EVs a year and grab a global market share of over 10% by 2025.

There’s some way to go; Hyundai Motor Group sold 86,434 battery EVs last year, according to data from industry consultant LMC Automotive. That was above the 73,278 sold by Volkswagen Group but behind the 367,500 delivered by Tesla.

Hyundai, the world’s No.5 automaker together with Kia Motors <000270.KS>, said its agility allowed it to lead the charge into EVs. “We are certain Hyundai is never going to fall behind,” it added.

NO KODAK MOMENT

A senior Hyundai insider, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the company had not been…



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