SEOUL, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) — Hyundai Motor Group, South Korea’s top automaker, will accelerate its drive to morph into a future mobility solutions provider this year to better compete with rivals, the group’s chief said Monday.

In his message to employees, Chairman Chung Euisun said Hyundai needs to be fully prepared to become the “first mover” in the rapidly changing automotive industry and the group will make the year of 2021 a “turning point” that will determine its future growth.

The chairman said the company will focus on securing a bigger share in environment-friendly vehicle markets and future mobility technologies to be a leading mobility company.

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

To strengthen its presence in the eco-friendly vehicle market, the group’s main affiliate Hyundai Motor Co. plans to launch the IONIQ 5, the first all-electric model based on its own EV platform called the electric-global modular platform (E-GMP) this year.

The new EV model comes with a battery that enables driving of over 500 kilometers on a single charge and ultra-fast charging to 80 percent capacity within 18 minutes.

The maker of the Sonata sedan and the Palisade SUV plans to introduce the IONIQ 6 midsize sedan in 2022 and the IONIQ 7 large SUV in 2024. It will begin using alphanumeric names like its bigger rivals, such as BMW, whose models have a Series No. 1-8.

Hyundai Motor’s independent Genesis brand also plans to launch an all-electric model this year and will eventually fill its lineup with zero-emission models in the future.

The group, which has Kia Motors Corp. under its wing, has set a goal of releasing 23 EV models, including 11 pure electric models, by 2025 to become the world’s third-largest EV maker with sales of 1 million units.

Currently, the group’s battery electric models are Hyundai Motor’s Kona EV and Ioniq Electric, as well as Kia’s Soul EV and Niro EV.

This file photo shows the headquarters of Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia Motors in southern Seoul. (Yonhap)

Last month, Hyundai Motor said it will invest 60 trillion won (US$56 billion) by 2025 to strengthen its EV lineup and compete with its rivals, such as General Motors Co. and Volkswagen Group, and achieve a market share of 8 to 10 percent of the global EV market by 2040.

In other efforts to become a future mobility leader, Hyundai Motor plans to start applying the Level 3 autonomous driving technologies to its models in 2022, while its affiliate Hyundai Mobis Co. continues to cooperate with global companies to develop the Level 4 and Level 5 self-driving automation technology.

A Level 3 car, if fully developed, will allow lane changes and other autonomous driving functions to work without intervention by the driver. At Level 4, a vehicle can drive itself under limited conditions and will not operate if all required conditions are not satisfied. At Level 5, a vehicle’s automated driving features can drive under any conditions.

The group said it will continue to expand partnerships with overseas companies with advanced mobility technologies for business synergies.

From January to November, Hyundai and Kia sold a combined 5,757,940 vehicles, down 12 percent from 6,571,322 units in the same period of last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The carmakers set their sales target at 7.54 million vehicles in global markets for 2020. Their annual sales results will be available Monday afternoon.