Chung Eui-sun, executive vice president of Hyundai, who has assumed day-to-day running of the company from his father, sounded a cautious note after announcing a joint venture for developing autonomous vehicle technology.
The new development firm will be owned 50/50 by Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, with the South Korean firm contributing US$1.6 billion ($2.4 billion) in cash and US$400 million ($590 million) in engineering and research services, as well as intellectual property.
The joint venture will develop Level 4 and Level 5 self-driving technology, and aims to have a new autonomous driving platform ready for "robotaxi providers, fleet operators, and automotive manufacturers" by 2022.
Hyundai and Aptiv's joint venture firm will be based in Boston, and will have technology centres across the US and Asia.
In an interview with Bloomberg after the announcement, Chung said "there's still a long way to go" for self-driving vehicles.
He stated there's a big difference between achieving Level 4 or 5 autonomous in the relatively sedate environment of Palo Alto, California, compared to doing it in a big, bustling metropolis like New Delhi, India, which Chung says is Hyundai's "ultimate goal".
Chung believes there will be a "lot of trial and error in terms of the regulations that are coming in place", and it will also take time for insurance companies to come up with relevant standards.
Due to all the hardware, software and development involved in making an autonomous car possible, the first generation of self-driving vehicles will be expensive. Chung says costs will drop over time, though.
Hyundai's de facto CEO refused to be drawn on how long the company's US$1.6 billion seed investment will last. He noted further funding is something the board will consider when the time is right as "profit is very important for us as well".