When everyone is busy talking and buzzing about the rumors Apple may be developing an electric car, its easy to lose track of what its top rival, Samsung, maybe up to. Samsung has been there, done that, but unfortunately it did not go exactly as planned.
Much before Apple, the South Korean electronic giant got interested in the automobile industry, seeing the potential of the convergence technologies and launched Samsung Motors long back in 1994.
But instead of pulling in the effort to reinvent the wheel right off the bat, Samsung teamed up with Nissan to build a version of one of its very conventional cars, the Maxima. It was named SM5 and it went on sale in 1998, right in the midst of the Asian financial crisis.
Realizing its need to concentrate on its core business to calm the storm, Samsung promptly sold 70% stake in its car business to Renault, which now owns 80.1% of the company, known today as Renault Samsung Motors.
Its range has grown up over the years and now includes three sedans, two crossovers and even an electric car, all of which are Korean-made versions of Renault-Nissan products. But sales in South Korea went down in comparison to local competitors like Hyundai and Kia. As a matter of fact, Renault Samsung has so much excess production capacity that it begun manufacturing Nissan Rogues for export to the US.
But that did not put an end to Samsung’s interest in automobiles. Its battery division, Samsung SDI, supplies cells to BMW for its i3 and i8 plug-in cars and on Monday it announced plans to buy the battery pack division of Magna International. Samsung SDI has become such an important player in the segment that Apple has reportedly been drawing away its employees, along with a few from Panasonic and Tesla for its nascent car division.
As if this does not seem complicated enough, Renault and Nissan have both announced plans to integrate the Apple Car Play system, which iPhone functionality with a vehicle infotainment system, into their automobiles. So there are high chances to be able to use Apple maps in Renault Samsung automobile soon. For the Galaxy smartphone users, don’t be dejected, they would be offering Google’s Android Auto System too.