Samsung has entered the automotive industry. The South Korean electronics giant currently manufactures smartphones, televisions, washing machines and computers, but announced the creation of a new unit Wednesday. The team will focus on components that could be used in self-driving cars.
The automotive division will be lead by Park Jong Hwan serving as executive vice president. Samsung will use its expertise in computer chip manufacturing and consumer displays to develop entertainment, autonomous driving and satellite navigation components. The division will work with other Samsung teams to develop technologies that could be used in self-driving cars in the near future. The restructuring follows news of slumping mobile sales for a second straight year, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Analysts praised the move, citing Samsung could be an industry leader in the automotive industry by tapping into the resources of several divisions within the company, Reuters reported. Samsung SDI Co Ltd, a Li-Ion and automotive battery manufacturer, and Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co Ltd, an electronics component manufacturer, are two teams that could be vital to the success of Samsung's automotive venture.
With cars getting smarter each year, the need for chips and advanced electronics is becoming a priority for car manufacturers. Samsung announced its participating in the Audi Progressive SemiConductor Program (PSCP) as a memory supplier. "Through the PSCP strategic partnership with Samsung, Audi will utilize Samsung’s high speed memory products to provide the best user experience to our customers," Ricky Hudi, Executive Vice President Electronic Development at Audi, said in a statement.
As part of the announcement, Samsung cited a report from industry analysts Gartner Inc. that the global automotive semiconductor market will grow to $32.7 billion in revenue in 2016 and the automotive memory market will hit $1.5 billion in 2016.
Samsung faces stiff competition from Apple, but more immediately LG Electronics Inc., Bloomberg reported. The South Korean company has already partnered with General Motors for the Chevrolet Bolt EV. LG provided the electric drive motor, battery cells, infotainment center and eight other components. Google-backed Android Auto is also a player in the in-vehicle infotainment market, as is Microsoft's Windows in the Car.