Samsung Electronics’ recent acquisition of Harman International Industries has sparked a lot of questions in regards to the South Korean company’s plans moving forward into the automotive market. Samsung has entertained the idea of becoming a more relevant brand in the automotive segment for quite some time, and given the recent takeovers and strategies, it might seem like Samsung could be preparing for building its own cars in the future. This, however, doesn’t seem to fall in line with Samsung’s actual vision, as according to a recent Forbes interview with Samsung Electronics President and Chief Strategy Officer Young Sohn, Samsung has no intention to manufacture its own vehicles.
In the interview, Young Sohn was quick to mention that he is “not an auto guy” but more of a “mobile, semiconductor and communications person.” Nevertheless, he added that Samsung has a vision depicting the car of tomorrow very differently from what we drive today. “We are envisioning what happens in the future as similar to the smartphone experience.” The company aims to offer “the convenience and technology that can bring more relevant information to one’s driving experience” and ultimately Samsung could also work on a fully autonomous solution. As for what was the reason behind the acquisition of Harman, Young Sohn said that his company has been looking at many options in regards to how to approach the market, and realized that it takes a long time to build a team and relationships in the automotive industry, which works in “very long business cycles”. However, Harman brings “tremendous customer relationship” Samsung doesn’t have in the industry; Harman has “a proven management team that has delivered over time and we like that consistent performance” and last but not least, Harman also “invested heavily in the areas of connected cloud, telematics, over-the-air updates and security.”
But more importantly, Young Sohn reiterated that Samsung “don’t really want to build cars.” As the company aims to become a bigger name in the car business, Sohn says that Samsung is “not interested in the more traditional area of business or technology, like power trains or seats or bodies” because Samsung can’t add value to these segments. But where the company wants to add value is “in areas of transportation where we support an autonomous connected experience, electrification and better user experiences.” In other words, Samsung wants to help pushing cars into a future where smart vehicles are the norm, rather than building its own cars from the ground up, and the recent acquisitions are a way for the company to increase its influence and improve relationships in the automotive industry.