Hyundai produces Ioniq 5 at new AI factory


Hyundai can now build and deliver cars just six hours after an order is placed using factories that are minimally staffed, run by artificial intelligence (AI) and use robots to do the key manufacturing work. This was showcased for the first time at the Korean brand’s new Innovation Centre in Singapore, currently producing the Hyundai Ioniq 5.

  1. AI-enabled plants to open in urban markets
  2. Factory can produce multiple models simultaneously

These new-era electric car factories will serve local urban markets, with a major focus on personalisation and customer experience, as part of a major push towards taking the brand upmarket. “This isn’t just a factory, it’s a customer experience centre,” said factory boss Alpesh Patel. 

This process starts in the ‘Ioniq Lounge’, where customers create and order a bespoke Hyundai. They are then taken to a virtual reality suite to view a simulation of the car being created before a screen rises to reveal the actual factory floor as well as the actual car. Next, they head to the site’s restaurant where they will be served food made from produce grown on-site at Hyundai’s robotically maintained Smart Farm, before watching the car be test-driven on the factory’s roof test track. Finally, the completed car is delivered to the foyer by autonomous robots. 

The goal is to allow the AI brain to take the lead on both day-to-day operations and future planning, in tandem with a human counterpart based in a digital command centre. “We want to blend monitoring with prevention By 2027, we want this to be an autonomous being with a human to confirm, not react," Patel said.

The factory also uses a flexible production method that allows for many different models to be produced on the same line at the same time without the need to reconfigure stations. Together with an army of artificially intelligent robots, this allows the Singapore factory to operate with just 29 technicians while producing 70 cars a day during one eight-hour shift. 

Patel said: “We use less people, but they do more technical jobs.” Asked what this means for lower-skilled workers, he acknowledged those jobs would be lost, but upskilling workers to these AI-assisted technical roles was the next move.

This tech-heavy set-up is unlikely to be rolled out at more traditional factories such as the massive Ulsan plant in Korea, where 34,000 workers produce 5,600 vehicles daily. 

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