Sunday 23 October 2016

With pressure in the phones markets, Samsung's smart money is on getting a foothold in the driverless car sector

Jungah Lee

Published 10/12/2015 | 02:30

The scramble is on to corner the driverless cars future. Pictured is an autopilot model already being produced by Tesla
The scramble is on to corner the driverless cars future. Pictured is an autopilot model already being produced by Tesla

Samsung Electronics will focus on autonomous driving, information and entertainment components for cars in its push to boost sales in the car parts business, where South Korean rival LG Electronics has established a lead.

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Samsung, the world's largest maker of chips and smartphones, named Park Jong Hwan, executive vice president, to head the effort, it said yesterday in a statement.

Park will coordinate participation of the group's affiliates such as battery maker Samsung SDI and software services provider Samsung SDS.

Electronics makers from Apple to Panasonic, LG and Samsung are vying for slices of a car industry that expects to put autonomous, or driverless, vehicles packed with electronic sensors and displays on the road in this decade. For Samsung, the effort is also a way to help make up for declining growth in televisions and a mainstay smartphone business that's been battered by lower-cost rivals in China and India.

"Samsung just can't leave this huge market untapped," said Greg Roh, an analyst at HMC Investment Securities in Seoul.

He said car electronics such as advanced semiconductors, car audio and sensors account for about 30pc of the total smart car market.

Samsung formed an alliance with Volkswagen's Audi unit to provide memory chips for the company's dashboard, infotainment and advanced driver assistance applications, the South Korea-based company said last month. The global automotive semiconductor market is expected to grow to about $32.7bn (€29.9bn) in 2016, Samsung said, citing figures from Gartner Inc.

LG is supplying 11 systems for the new Bolt, General Motors' electric car, including the electric-drive motor, charger, batteries, the companies said in October.

The companies agreed in 2011 to jointly design and engineer electric vehicles, a deal that expanded on an existing relationship.

LG, which also competes with Samsung in televisions and smartphones, reported 478.6 billion won (€371m) in revenue from vehicle components for the September quarter.

Samsung doesn't provide results for its vehicle components business. (Bloomberg)

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