Window into Kia's future

An annual internal competition for engineers sheds some light on what technologies could be developed

On the edge of South Korea’s densely populated capital, stands a non-descript, relatively low-rise – compared to the innumerable tall blocks that seem to fight for recognition in the city skyline – modern building.

From the outside, to the untrained eye, they could easily be an office block housing accountants, administrators or some other middling office professional.

It is however the premises for Hyundai-Kia Motor Group’s Namyang R&D centre, one of a number of R&D sites the OEM has that develop the next-generation technologies equipped in the firm’s future vehicles.

The company is the fastest-growing manufacturer in the world, having tripled its sales in the past 15 years and so the technologies it is capable of researching and eventually developing are increasing as the resources at its disposal continue to increase.

At the same time, for the past seven years Hyundai-Kia has held an internal competition that seeks to find the best and brightest technological ideas from its engineers.

The intention is to give the employees the freedom to let their imaginations run wild as long as the proposal relates to one of the themes provided by the organisers.

A non-compulsory event, the competing teams are formed naturally through friendships and networking generally among internal staff with the only other rules being that all work on the project is carried out outside of working hours and spending is limited to 9 million South Korean Won (approximately €7,000).

After the initial proposal application, entrants are whittled down through extensive questioning by organisers.

Those that make it to the final are then given the financial backing to turn their theoretical idea into a working prototype.

Judged by senior management at the motor group – including head of design, Peter Schreyer – the teams compete for a cash prize, as well as the opportunity to visit one of the company’s R&D centres in locations around the world.

If the idea is good enough, there is every opportunity that it will be picked up for further research by the engineers at the Namyang office and in years to come, if applicable, even be incorporated in to future Hyundai or Kia models.

tags: Hyundai Kia Testing