Olabisi Boyle, vice president of product planning and mobility strategy at Hyundai Motor North America, has seen plenty of change during her decades in the industry. Before joining Hyundai in August, Boyle was vice president of connected commerce at Visa, where one of her roles was to expand in-car payment technology. Before that, she held several leadership positions at Fiat Chrysler and Ford Motor Co. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: What do you see as the future for electric vehicles for Hyundai and the auto industry in general? How long do you think it will take before EV becomes the norm?
A: Hyundai has made significant investments on our journey to electrification leadership. We plan to introduce about 12 battery electric models by 2025. The overall group will have 23 eco-friendly vehicles globally and one million vehicles EV by 2025. And we want to fully electrify the vehicle lineup and account for about 10 percent of the EV market by 2040.
Q: At CES you discussed the Urban Airport in the UK. Can you talk a little bit about self driving and flying cars and the Urban Airport?
A: There’s what we like to call “urban air mobility vehicles” instead of flying cars. We have a joint venture with Aptiv called Motional and we started testing fully driverless systems in 2020. Our vision for future cities also includes these things called “purpose vehicles.” These are autonomous vehicles that can be used for cargo, people, also ride-hailing with (fully) autonomous driving. Where it gets into the urban mobility and how they interact is we want to have, going into the future, multi-modal solutions for people. So you can come in into a “vertiport” (a type of airport where aircraft land and take off vertically) on your urban air mobility vehicle, land there, and then take one of these purpose-built vehicles to a different location, and then take it then from there to an e-bike or an e-scooter. We have this vision for urban air mobility that’s looking to commercialize these aircraft by 2028.
Q: How does robotics and Hyundai’s acquisition of a majority stake in the robot-maker Boston Dynamics play into this?
A: We want to have progress for humanity and become a smart mobility company. But we’re also working on all types of applications for robotics. So it includes wearable robotics technology in our assembly plants to help with people that have to do repetitive tasks, wearable robots for the elderly and those with partial disability, and then robotics that we’re developing for our urban mobility vehicles that can use robotics to operate in off-road terrain.
Q: How are you adapting to the whole car buying experience going digital?
A: We’re working with our dealers to ensure all our dealers have digital retail options available. We’ve seen our online transactions reach nearly 10 percent of our overall volume. It’s going to be something that continues and even grows. post pandemic, post vaccine.