Hyundai Heavy pitches itself as a tech leader at CES in Las Vegas

With shipping shows cancelling en masse because of Covid-19, South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has taken a different marketing path to stamp out its credentials. HHI, which is, along with China’s CSSC, the world’s largest shipbuilder, has been exhibiting this week in Las Vegas at CES, a high profile tech event, where it has pitched itself as a “future builder”.

Sporting jeans and a rollneck, Kisun Chung, 39, the third generation of the Chung family at the helm of HHI, has been fronting the campaign out in Nevada, looking more like a tech CEO rather than a shipbuilder.

Chung, the CEO of Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings, commented yesterday: “I am proud of the past 50 years of HHI Group, which has laid the groundwork for the growth of the world. In the next 50 years, we will become the world’s best future builder and create new growth that is more sustainable, smarter, and more inclusive, something we have never seen before.”

HHI has been displaying its Avikus’ autonomous navigation technology at the Las Vegas Convention Center as well as its liquid hydrogen transport designs, new propulsion system technology, and intelligent robotics.

Hyogyeong Joo, who has led development of HHI’s Avikus navigation technology, told reporters at a press conference: “Avikus plans to have the world’s first self-driving, massive-scale transoceanic voyage by the first quarter of this year. Our mission is to enable fully autonomous navigation to create the safest and most intelligent ships.”

HHI laid out plans to build the world’s first 20,000 cu m liquid hydrogen carrier by 2025, while smart construction robots have also been on display at the HHI booth.

Also this week at CES, HHI signed a memorandum of understanding with Palantir Technologies, a big data analytics firm, to build a big data platform.

Like many big maritime brands, HHI’s marketing spend plans have been buffeted by Covid-19 over the past two years with a host of shipping events postponing. Marintec China and Nor-Shipping have both been forced to reschedule dates in the past month. The next big show in the maritime calendar is TPM, the world’s largest container shipping gathering, set for a return to the Long Beach Convention Center next month.

“Our team is in full planning mode to return TPM to a live format at the end of February,” organisers stressed yesterday.

Covid-permitting, the severely rescheduled maritime events calendar this year will see the world’s top four shipping exhibitions – SMM, Marintec China, Posidonia and Nor-Shipping – appear in the same calendar year for the first time.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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