Automotive activities viable again as Hyundai opens first EV facility in Singapore: PM Lee

AUTOMOTIVE activities are becoming viable in Singapore again, as the process of making electric vehicles (EVs) complements Singapore's strengths in advanced manufacturing and logistics, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday, as the first EV manufacturing facility in Singapore broke ground.

"Electric vehicles have a different supply chain, fewer mechanical parts and more electronics, which plays to Singapore's strengths," he said at the groundbreaking ceremony for Korean carmaker Hyundai's new S$400 million innovation centre.

"We did not think that Singapore would one day be manufacturing cars again. But Singapore is where we have made the impossible possible."

The Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Centre (HMGICS), said to be the first of its kind, will enable Hyundai to develop new automotive technologies, including for the production of EVs.

The facility will be located at Jurong Innovation District and is expected to produce up to 30,000 vehicles per year by 2025. It will also allow Hyundai to pilot new manufacturing models to meet the demand for mass personalisation of cars through small-scale factories in urban areas.

"I read that you are even planning to develop an electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) vehicle by 2028. Perhaps one day we will manufacture them at HMGICS and see them fly in the skies of Singapore. Never say never!" said Mr Lee.

Siting the facility in the Republic takes advantage of Singapore's strengths in advanced manufacturing and logistics, Mr Lee said, given that the Jurong Innovation District already houses a vibrant ecosystem of researchers, technology partners and factories of the future.

Noting that global companies such as Delphi and Infineon - which produce automotive electronics - have been in Singapore for some time now, Mr Lee said he hopes this will open up new growth areas for the economy and create exciting jobs for Singaporeans.

"For example, industrial Internet of Things (IoT) engineers, data scientists, cobot technicians and digital supply chain strategists, these job titles did not even exist a few years ago, but these jobs are now on the cutting edge, and demand new skills," he added.

"Young Singaporeans may not have these skills in the first instance, but they will learn from the engineers that you bring here from Korea and elsewhere in the world, as we did in the past," Mr Lee said, adding that he is confident in building up a Singaporean workforce with these skills.

He noted that Hyundai's new facility also signals an important milestone in the economic relationship between Singapore and South Korea, as it will pave the way for more Korean companies to invest in the Republic, partner local suppliers and companies, and collaborate with Singapore's universities and research institutes.

For example, Hyundai Motor is in discussions with Nanyang Technological University and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research to use artificial intelligence in autonomous driving, Mr Lee noted.