Interbrand Thinking

Transforming Mobility: Q&A with Thomas Schemera, CMO, Hyundai


Thomas Schemera, Chief Marketing Officer, Hyundai

What are the big success stories for your brand over the last 12 months that have driven your brand strength and growth?

Under our company’s vision, “Progress for Humanity”, Hyundai is forming a diversified business portfolio which includes EVs, UAM, and PBV and has set the present and future as our milestones for success. With the launch of IONIQ 5 this year, Hyundai is entering an era of next-generation electric vehicles and IONIQ 5 is a demonstration of Hyundai’s vision for clean mobility, with vehicles made using recycled materials and zero-emission PT. Furthermore, we are excited to drive the transformation of cars from means of transportation to living spaces through various technological innovations, such as V2L technology which allows customers to charge their external devices with our smartcar technology.

At IAA Mobility 2021, Hyundai announced its commitment to become carbon neutral by 2045. Our goal is to achieve zero carbon emissions throughout all stages of the process, from production to operation and disposal. Hyundai’s integrated strategy to achieve carbon neutrality rests on three pillars: clean mobility, next-generation platforms, and green energy. To achieve this goal, we will not only continuously expand our electrification capabilities, but also accelerate the development of innovative energy conversion and mobility platforms.

Hyundai’s next-generation mobility and carbon-neutral business for human progress will enable us to form a complete ecosystem for the future smart city, giving us an unimitable competitiveness. Ultimately, Hyundai aims to become a business that is more than just a carmaker.

Thinking about the customer: we have a hypothesis that consumers once made purchases to signify their economic capital, then later to signify their intellectual capital, and most recently to signal their “ethical capital”. Does this hypothesis resonate with you and how do you address it from a brand standpoint? What about your brand do you fix & what do you flex?

Definitely. Consumers now have stronger ethical and social considerations when they purchase products, and this trend will only further develop. There is also increased anxiety over climate-related problems. We share these concerns and meet our customers needs with our actions, by declaring our “carbon-neutral vision” and expanding our clean mobility lineup through electric lineups such as Nexo (Hydrogen) and IONIQ.

We trace our story back to the words held by the late Hyundai founder Chung Ju-yung, “aspire for a better life.” Chung wanted to build a society where everyone had a better standard of life in South Korea, and by constructing essential city infrastructure and making the first mass-produced Hyundai car, our founder had a significant role in the economic development of South Korea. Hyundai continues to channel his spirit of innovation through different projects, from investing in hydrogen energy and next-generation mobility platforms, while shifting our focus from short-term profit to long-run, tangible change.

We have a number of different solutions which are transforming us from being a traditional car manufacturer to a smart mobility provider. Our research into hydrogen has shown it to be the central driving force for achieving sustainability. Therefore, strategic decisions such as the establishment of a hydrogen fuel plant in Guangzhou, the launch of an H2 brand, and a hydrogen truck contract are in progress to commercialize hydrogen energy. Another solution we are developing is Robotaxi, a next-generation mobility platform that combines electrification and autonomous driving technology. It consumes less energy and can weave through traffic congestion through smart-operation. Our hope is that this technology will ultimately lead to the establishment of a a sustainable transportation network and a reduction in our emissions. Finally, Hyundai is developing a UAM ecosystem for megacities such as Seoul based on the world’s best hydrogen fuel cell technology. We expect UAM to improve mobility efficiency centered on eco-friendly mobility and expand urban boundaries.

We are excited to drive the transformation of cars from means of transportation to living spaces through various technological innovations.

Post-COVID, post Social Justice – the world is settling back to a new normal. How have these events affected your brand strategy?

In this new era, it is important to react to changing priorities and provide customer-oriented responses. We have made the necessary choice to evolve from our traditional role as a car manufacturer and become a smart mobility solution provider. Our main task is to implement this strategy throughout the company, and break some of our established work practices. However, Hyundai has confidence that we can pivot quickly due to our organizational DNA, Hyundai Speed, which flexibly accepts and executes changes.

To this end, we are internalizing our brand vision and direction in three stages, Know-Amplify-Action, using in-house campaigns so that all of our executives and employees can channel our ethos and achieve strong results. Alongside establishing an eco-friendly brand system and developing future energy technology, we are responding to changing customer priorities by focusing on our mobility values, Fun, Connected and Clean. We have also highlighted different ways in which we are reacting to new consumer priorities on our products.

We hope to create a revolutionary business model which will realize complete connectivity and freedom to move.

What are the major disrupters and accelerators of competition and brand growth on your horizon?

The need to redefine “automotive competition” is both a disrupter and an accelerator. Competition in the automobile industry now centres on “mobility competition” rather than “automotive competition”, and brand success is defined from the perspective of mobility solutions.

While one of our priorities will be to better the experience of driving through electrification and autonomous technology, we hope to create a revolutionary business model which will realize complete connectivity and freedom to move via car sharing, vehicle call services, and last mile solutions with the overall goal of unlimited mobility for our customers.