Samsung to create auto team to focus on autonomous driving

Announcement comes as Samsung looking for new businesses to offset sagging smartphone sales

December 10, 2015
by The Canadian Press

SEOUL, Korea—Samsung Electronics said Wednesday it will set up a team to develop an auto components business focusing on autonomous driving technology and entertainment systems.

Kwon Oh-hyun, a vice chairman who has long managed Samsung’s electronics component business, will oversee the new team.

The announcement comes as Samsung is under pressure to find new businesses to offset sagging profit from its smartphone sales.

Technology companies have been expanding into aspects of auto technology and some have formed partnership with automakers.

Google has been testing self-driving cars for six years and Apple has developed software for automakers called CarPlay that let drivers use an iPhone to operate an entertainment system.

Samsung was silent about its plans until now. It had an auto manufacturing business in the 1990s, under the leadership of Chairman Lee Kun-hee, an enthusiast for sports cars. But the venture went bankrupt in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Some other Samsung companies have auto interests. Samsung SDI supplies lithium-ion batteries for electric car makers and Samsung Electro-Mechanics, an electronic parts maker, said last year that it would enter the auto components business.