20 years ago, Proton established a second factory in the Tg. Malim area of Perak with a plan to develop a ‘Proton City’. This was to be an automotive zone with suppliers nearby to provide parts and systems directly to the factory. Parts of that original plan were realised but not to the grand plan envisaged as a production hub.

But the idea has not been forgotten and a year ago, DRB-HICOM announced its intention to develop an Automotive Hi-Tech Valley (AHTV) in the Tg. Malim area with the aim of becoming an industry hub for the ASEAN region.

Besides supporting Proton, the AHTV is expected to attract businesses which are involved in new technologies and systems relevant to the global automotive industry. These would include electrification, Artificial Intelligence, autonomous technologies and advanced connectivity.


Honda, like other responsible carmakers, has been committed to ensuring that road accidents caused by motor vehicles are reduced, if possible to zero. After all, it supplies those vehicles and therefore has to ensure that they are not only safe to use but also safe to other road-users.

It has constantly introduced new safety features and systems in its vehicles as new technologies have been developed. Today, its Honda SENSING system integrates many active safety systems to work more effectively and intelligently to assist the driver and also prevent accidents. The Honda SENSING suite was first introduced in 2015 with the CR-V and has been included with new models since then.

Honda SENSING is being continuously improved and apart from the basic system – which already consists of a number of active systems – there are additional versions such as Honda SENSING 360 and Honda SENSING Elite for more sophisticated applications in certain models.


Ford has always urged drivers to keep ‘eyes forward and hands on the wheel’. It’s obvious that maintaining attention on the road ahead is important to immediately spot any danger. At the same time, both hands should be on the steering wheel to always be able to take avoiding action in an emergency. That’s why using a mobilephone when driving is dangerous and in many countries, an offence.

Over the years, various technologies have been introduced to help drivers stay focussed ahead. Head-up Displays (HUDs) are one of them, the technology having been taken from fighter aircraft. By projecting important information on the windscreen, the driver can be informed while still looking ahead.

Now Ford researchers have developed a new headlight technology that could help ensure those behind the wheel literally keep their eyes on the road. The new technology can project directions, speed limits or weather information onto the road so the driver keeps looking ahead.

The technology is intended for use at night, of course, as that is when driving can be riskier. Statistics in the UK show that 40% of collisions happen during the hours of darkness, even though there are far fewer people driving than in the daytime.

This risk is increased whenever a driver takes their eyes off the road. A vehicle travelling at 90 km/h covers 25 metres per second, meaning even a short glance at the navigation screen on the dashboard can result in ‘driving blind’ for 10 metres or more. On an unlit road, this could potentially mean missing an important sign or a bend in the road.


Ford’s researchers have therefore come up with a system that projects important information onto the road using high-resolution headlights. The technology could even provide the driver with information about changes in weather, such as rain falling, fog, slippery conditions, or a slippery road ahead.

Connecting the headlight to the navigation system could display upcoming turns, while the width of the vehicle could be projected onto the road, helping the driver to judge whether the vehicle will fit through a gap or into a parking space.

The technology  could benefit other road users too. For example, a pedestrian crossing could be projected onto the road, both for the view of the driver and the pedestrian, in situations where the existing road markings are faded or unclear. Other possibilities include showing a path for the driver to follow to ensure cyclists are passed at a safe distance.

“What started as playing around with a projector light and a blank wall could take lighting technologies to a whole new level. There’s the potential now to do so much more than simply illuminate the road ahead, to help reduce the stress involved in driving at night. The driver could get essential information without ever needing to take their eyes off the road,” said Lars Junker, Features and Software, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, Ford of Europe.

Although wind tunnels have been associated with aeronautical research and development, such facilities existed long before the first aircraft flew, and they were used by scientists in the 19th century to study airflow. Aircraft designers then used wind tunnels to see the effects of different shapes that would be used for aircraft bodies and wings.

Wind tunnels were also used by other industries and by the 1930s, as cars started to go at high speeds, the wind tunnel was used to study how air flowed over their bodies. It was a Prof. Dr.-Ing. Wunibald Kamm at the Technische Hochschule Stuttgart in Germany who was the first to use a wind tunnel for aerodynamic design studies which would be pioneering.

From then on, carmakers would add aerodynamic studies to the development process of a new model, using scale models in small wind tunnels and full-sized models in larger tunnels. Various types of equipment measured airflow so that it could be optimised because it was understood that smoother airflow could improve performance and also reduce noise levels. By having a wind tunnel, the engineers could also study the behaviour of the car design (eg stability) at high speeds without actually having to drive the prototype on the track.

In earlier years, carmakers didn’t yet have their own wind tunnels, so they used those in other research facilities. In time, some started to build their own so they could conduct testing with more secrecy and also without having to pay for renting facilities. Some built small tunnels and some built big ones, depending on how much they could spend.

Pininfarina, the automotive design consultancy, also decided to build its own wind tunnel and it was large enough to test full-sized vehicles. At the time it began operations, it was Italy’s first wind tunnel to be built for testing full-sized cars, and one of only seven in the world. That was in the year 1972 and this year sees it celebrating its 50th anniversary.

“Without a doubt, Pininfarina has a real passion for aerodynamics. And it’s a passion that has lasted more than 50 years, long before my father decided to build the structure. It all began with my grandfather Pinin, whose visionary intuition in aerodynamics is exemplified since the Lancia Aprilia Aerodinamica produced in 1936,” said Chairman Paolo Pininfarina, whose father was Sergio Pininfarina.

1937 Lancia Aprilia Aerodinamica
1937 Lancia Aprilia Aerodinamica

While it was initially used for motor vehicles, Pininfarina’s wind tunnel would become a powerful tool for testing and developing products across all sectors in which the company is fully involved. These include aircraft, high-speed trains, yachts, buildings, wind engineering, industrial design and even sporting goods. With the advent of electric mobility, there is even greater emphasis on aerodynamics as well as aeroacoustic development.

Even yachts can be tested in the wind tunnel which is 4.2 metres high and 9.6 metres wide.

It is one of the few wind tunnels in the world to have a TGS – Turbulence Generator System – able to create various conditions of controlled turbulence associated with gusts of wind, overtaking manoeuvres, cross-winds and vortices generated by cars ahead.

There is also a Ground Effect Simulation System allows reproduction of real vehicle motion conditions. This is achieved by having 4 rollers and 3 mats to allow the wheels of the vehicle and the ground to move at the same wind speed. This system was developed to make the tunnel test conditions as faithful as possible to the road conditions, and to analyze the movement of air underneath.

While most cars have closed cabins, there are also convertibles with open tops as well as the increasingly popular fitment of sunroofs that create an opening on the roof. These all have significant implications on airflow and noise generation, as those who have been in such cars will know. In the wind tunnel, the turbulence generated can be studied and solutions developed to make things more comfortable.

When it first started operation, the wind speed inside the tunnel was less than the 250 km/h maximum of today. It was upgraded with the addition of 13 fans, with each fan able to spin at a different speed or have a different blade pitch. Noise levels were also reduced allowing better aeroacoustic studies with new noise measuring techniques. Aeroacoustic tests are becoming a fundamental element for increasing driving comfort, particularly for hybrid and battery electric vehicles.

The wind tunnel is equipped with three external microphone arrays and also cameras, helping to identify the sources of noise and consequent definition of countermeasures. Noise Vision and Beam Forming support enables visualization to aid analysis. In addition, the wind tunnel is also equipped with 4 acoustic dummies for internal acoustic comfort evaluation.

“The Wind Tunnel has given our company a considerable competitive edge, being the only design company to own one. Born as a tool with which Pininfarina developed its own projects, today it’s a strategic asset for the group, thus expanding the portfolio of services that we offer to the market: an activity that supports other sectors beyond the automotive, from transportation to architecture, from nautical to industrial design,” said CEO Silvio Pietro Angori.


The Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) aims to capture a 7% share of the electric vehicle (EV) market by 2030, by which time it expects to be selling 1.87 million vehicles annually. To achieve this goal, the Korean carmaker will invest around 19.4 trillion won (US$16.10 billion) in EV-related businesses.

Besides its own investments, it will also work with other parties in various fields of expertise and one of them is Michelin. A MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was signed recently for collaboration on R&D for innovative tyre technologies over the next 3 years. These technologies will be used in the development of next-generation tyres optimized for premium EVs.

The MoU is the second one between the two companies, following the successful completion of their first partnership. This collaboration will lead to a new journey towards developing next-generation tyres to be equipped with the Group’s clean, smart and sustainable mobility solutions.

“This partnership with Michelin will result in real innovations in tire technology, solidifying Hyundai Motor Group’s position as a leader in the smart mobility industry,” said Bong-soo Kim, Vice-President and the Head of Chassis Development Centre at the Hyundai Motor Group. “By fully leveraging our mobility technology and Michelin’s tyre expertise, we are confident in our ability to achieve ground-breaking innovations in tire performance enhancement and create synergies in this organic collaboration.”

In the previous 5-year partnership that began in November 2017, the companies jointly developed an exclusive tyre for the IONIQ 5 EV. There were also joint experiments and analysis methods carried out  which were related to tyres as well as technology exchange.

Over the next 3 years, HMG and Michelin will jointly develop the following innovations: eco-friendly tyres with increased use of eco-friendly materials; tyres optimized for next-generation EVs; and a real-time tyre monitoring system which will help advance autonomous driving technology.

The tyres for the IONIQ 5 EV were jointly developed by Hyundai and  Michelin.

“The collaboration between Hyundai Motor Group and Michelin over the past 5 years contributed to the successful launch of the Hyundai IONIQ 5,” said Georges Levy, Executive Vice-President of Automotive Original Equipment at Michelin. “We are pleased to announce that the relationship has been extended for 3 more years to continue our work together on new technologies in favour of safer, cleaner mobility. The association between Hyundai Motor Group and Michelin is founded on the same vision and on a shared passion for excellence, performance and innovation that have become increasingly essential factors as we rise to the mobility-related challenges we all face today.”

The next-generation tyres will be installed on future premium EV models of HMG. The new tyre technology is critical to meet the durability requirements of tyres, as well as driving performance and electric efficiency under high load as the driving range of EVs continues to increase.

There will also be joint research to analyse tyre wear, tyre load and road friction beyond the current standards of tyre temperature and air pressure. The new tyres are also expected to significantly improve  ride comfort by reducing vibration and noise generated by EVs at high speeds.

Additionally, there will be research into ways to increase the use of eco-friendly materials in tyres to about 50% of the total tyre weight from 20% currently.

Hyundai Sime Darby Motors launches second EV – the Hyundai IONIQ 5, priced from RM199,888

There are 6 levels (include level 0) of autonomous driving technology established by the US Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and currently, many vehicles are able to offer up to Level 2 but the driver must still give attention. Beyond Level 2, the requirement for the driver to be ready to take over control when necessary becomes less. By level 5, the vehicle can operate entirely on its own and the driver can even read a book or watch TV while moving.

For the higher levels to be introduced requires that other elements of the environment around the vehicle must also be ready. For instance, signage must be clear so that the cameras can capture important information and road markings must also be well defined for the vehicle to travel in a precise position.

For this reason, even though there are some vehicles already able to operate at level 4 where driver control is not needed, they can only do so within a limited area of a city or highway. As such, they are currently being used for vehicle-sharing purposes where the public can use them as autonomous transport around the city.

Hyundai Motor Group Autonomous Vehicles

Hyundai Motor Group Autonomous Vehicles

The Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) is one of the companies that has a vehicle ready to operate with level 4 technology and it will be running a pilot service in the Gangnam area of Seoul, South Korea’s capital city. Called the RoboRide car-hailing service, IONIQ 5 battery electric vehicles (BEV) fitted with the necessary equipment will be used. The pilot RoboRide will be the first car-hailing service with autonomous driving vehicles to operate in Gangnam, one of the most congested areas in metropolitan Seoul.

For the pilot service, the Group has obtained a temporary autonomous driving operation permit from the authorities. It will collaborate with Jin Mobility, a Korean startup operating the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered car-hailing mobility platform ‘i.M.’. Jin Mobility will be in charge of operating the two IONIQ 5 RoboRide units on its i.M application.

HMG also plans to expand the pilot service, while further developing autonomous driving technology with consideration for various conditions, such as driving stability.

Hyundai Motor Group Autonomous Vehicles

“At Hyundai Motor Group, we are developing level 4 autonomous driving technology based on the internally developed Advanced Driving Support System, whose functionally and safety are verified through mass production and successful commercial launch,” said Woongjun Jang, Senior Vice-President and Head of the Autonomous Driving Centre of HMG. “We expect this RoboRide pilot service will be an important inflection point that will enable us to internalize autonomous driving technology.”

Through this pilot PROGRAM, HMG expects to collect valuable autonomous driving data and plans to further develop the level 4 autonomous driving technology to navigate safely and flexibly in complicated urban environments. To prepare for such a complicated driving environment, HMG has also worked with Seoul Metropolitan Government to establish a system that can connect traffic signals with autonomous vehicles.

Hyundai Motor Group Autonomous Vehicles

In addition, an in-house developed remote vehicle assist system will be provided to ensure safety. The system monitors autonomous driving status, vehicle and route, and supports the trip with remote assist functions, such as changing the lane under circumstances where autonomous driving is not feasible. Based on the level 4 autonomous driving technology, a RoboRide vehicle will perceive, make decisions, and control its own driving status, while its safety driver will only intervene under limited conditions.

The RoboRide pilot service will operate from 10 am to 4 pm, Mondays to Fridays, to minimize any possible inconveniences on the road. Up to 3 passengers can be on a ride, and there will be a ‘safety driver’ present in the vehicle as well to respond to any emergencies.

Besides RoboRide, the company has also been conducting a test operation of its RoboShuttle service since August last year. The demand-responsive, high-occupancy vehicle service, powered by autonomous driving and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, operates along a 6.1-km route in Korea’s Sejong Smart City.

RoboShuttle service which has been operating since August 2021.

The pilot operation is conducted using a H350 van equipped with autonomous driving technology. This technology has a range of Level 4-comparable core technologies and is developed in-house by the Autonomous Driving Centre. Based on its self-driving capabilities, the vehicle is designed to perceive its surroundings, make decisions, and control itself while driving on the road, requiring minimal intervention from a safety driver.

Hyundai IONIQ 5 EV to be used for fully autonomous robotaxi by Motional


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