The world’s largest smartphone maker signals desire to diversify beyond traditional electronics
Samsung has identified the automotive sector as a critical area for growth. Photo: kim hong-ji/Reuters
SEOUL— Samsung Electronics Co. has created a $300 million fund targeting new investments for automotive software and technology, the latest sign of the world’s largest smartphone maker’s desire to diversify beyond traditional electronics.
Samsung said Thursday that it had secured the first investment from the automotive-innovation fund, spending €75 million ($89 million) to create a strategic partnership with TTTech, a company that specializes in safeguarding the real-time computer systems used in connected cars. Audi AG NSU -0.12% is also a major investor in the Austria-based TTTech.
The South Korean technology giant has identified the automotive sector as a critical area for growth, as cars are increasingly outfitted with multimedia platforms and high-tech software—a potential windfall for Samsung’s displays and semiconductor businesses.
Samsung has been accelerating investments and other efforts into the automotive space over the past year, following last year’s announcement of an $8 billion deal to buy U.S. auto-parts supplier Harman International Industries Inc. Since then, Samsung has won regulatory approval in South Korea and California to test cars using its self-driving technology on public roads.
Like many of its Silicon Valley peers, Samsung doesn’t plan to manufacture its own vehicles but sees vast potential to create autonomous-driving software it could one day sell to traditional car makers. Samsung’s tests in South Korea install its deep-learning algorithms and other software onto a vehicle made by Hyundai Motor Co.