Motional, Backed by Hyundai, Trims Workforce by 5% in Pursuit of Autonomous Future

Motional, the autonomous vehicle company borne out of a joint venture between Hyundai Moor Group and Aptiv, told employees Wednesday it will cut about 5% of its workforce, TechCrunch has learned. The autonomous vehicle company last had layoffs in December 2022, when it cut about 10% of its workforce. Motional operates an autonomous vehicle taxi service in Las Vegas (still with human safety operators behind the wheel) on Uber, Lyft and Via platforms. A production-ready autonomous vehicle, equipped with the kind of redundancies designed for safe operations without a human driver, is a critical milestone required for commercial operations. During CES 2024, the company announced plans to work with Kia on a next-generation vehicle that will enter commercial operations later this decade.

Motional, the innovative autonomous vehicle company formed through a partnership between Hyundai Moor Group and Aptiv, revealed to its employees on Wednesday that it will be implementing a reduction of approximately 5% in its workforce, sources have shared with TechCrunch.

The job cuts will affect less than 70 employees, predominantly those in administrative positions and some in Boston, one of the many cities where Motional conducts their autonomous vehicle tests. The company’s previous round of layoffs occurred in December 2022, when around 10% of its employees were laid off. These layoffs were mainly in its Pittsburgh operations, where AV tests are conducted.

Motional currently runs a driverless vehicle taxi service in Las Vegas, still monitored by human drivers, available on Uber, Lyft, and Via platforms. It also has an ongoing autonomous delivery trial with Uber Eats in Santa Monica, California.

“Motional recently announced measures to redirect resources towards areas that will directly contribute to our long-term success, which involved staff reductions affecting less than 5% of non-technical employees,” a spokesperson for Motional confirmed in an email. “We continue to recruit essential talent to advance our technology and achieve our commercial targets. With a solid funding plan in place, we are well-positioned for the next phase of our commercialization. Our team is focused on expanding our driverless services, building more commercial partnerships for Motional, and continuing to develop our next-generation robotaxi in partnership with Kia.”

The job cuts arrive just a month after automotive supplier Aptiv, the other half of the $4 billion joint venture with Hyundai that established Motional, announced its decision to not invest any further capital into the venture.

With Aptiv withdrawing future funding, Hyundai is now solely responsible for backing the company, unless Motional can secure another company to finance its operations. According to sources, Motional is actively pursuing other funding options. In the past, the company has stated in its earnings reports and internal meetings that it has enough resources to last through the first quarter of 2024.

Despite the financial challenges, Motional continues to make strides towards its goal of launching a robotic taxi service in 2024 utilizing Hyundai Ioniq 5 vehicles without human drivers. In November, Hyundai Motor Group and Motional announced their collaborative plans to develop production-ready versions of the fully-electric Ioniq 5 robotaxi at the automaker’s new innovation center in Singapore, the Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center Singapore (HMGICS). The availability of a production-ready autonomous vehicle with the necessary redundancies for safe operation without a human driver is a crucial milestone required for commercial launches.

During CES 2024, the company disclosed its partnership with Kia to co-develop a next-generation vehicle, anticipated to commence operations later this decade. The development process is set to begin this year, according to the company.

Avatar photo
Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

Articles: 836

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *