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Case study: How Hyundai is promoting product safety

Automobile accidents may cause a tremendous number of injuries and deaths, as well as material losses. It is thus imperative to develop safety technologies that can help to prevent these accidents and crash avoidance technologies that can limit damage.

This case study is based on the 2015 Sustainability Report by Hyundai published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate that CSR/ sustainability reporting done responsibly is achieved by identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment and stakeholders and by measuring, managing and changing.

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As one of the world’s leading global carmakers, Hyundai is focusing on the development of vehicle safety technology  Tweet This!, to prevent car accidents and minimize injuries in an inevitable collision. After measuring and setting targets, Hyundai took action to introduce accident prevention technologies – for example, the emergency driver assist system can analyze the location and speed of vehicles in the vicinity, detect the possibility of a collision, identify the safest route which will help to avoid a collision and prompt the driver to maneuver the vehicle out of danger –, implement technologies that reduce injuries in a collision – such as pedestrian protection technology – and, also, conduct vehicle safety tests for improved safety.

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2015 Sustainability Report Hyundai identified a range of material issues, such as economic performance, labor-management relations, development of eco-friendly products, job creation and retention. Among these, promoting product safety stands out as a key material issue for Hyundai, as one of the world’s leading global carmakers with product responsibility as a top priority.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Hyundai engages with:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Customers

 

·         Motor show and new car launching ceremony

·         Test driving

·         Sports sponsorship

·         Customer service

·         Customer satisfaction survey

·         Car club

·         Website

·          Online communication

·         Reports (financial report, sustainability report, social contribution white paper)

Employees ·         Labor-management committee

·         Occupational safety committee

·         Internal publication

·         Newsletter

·         Grievance counseling center

·         Website

·         Reports

Suppliers/Dealers

 

·         Dealer seminar

·         Dealer conference

·         Dealer related events

·         Dealership conference, seminar and training

·         Supplier satisfaction survey

·         Web portal for purchase

·         Reports

Shareholders/Investors

 

 

·         Annual general meeting

·         Company briefing

·         Website

Society

 

·         Social contributions

·         Communication with local communities near worksite

·         Youth support program

·         Website

·         Report

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

Hyundai’s sustainability report focuses on high priority issues that have been identified, through rigorous analysis of internal and external issues, as being of highest interest to stakeholders and as having a major impact on business operations. In 2014, a survey was conducted among the staff responsible for key areas of sustainability management in order to identify high priority issues and to measure their materiality.

Important sustainability issues for Hyundai in 2014 were selected through the Materiality Analysis based on two main criteria – business impact and social interest. The top 30% of issues were classified as “Priority 1” and the next 30% were categorized as “Priority 2”. As a result of the analysis, Hyundai found that supplier management had become a new top priority, while the same issues that were analyzed as being material in the previous year were selected as priority issues once again.

What actions were taken by Hyundai to promote product safety?

In its 2015 Sustainability Report Hyundai set the following targets for promoting product safety, based on the company’s approach to materiality – on taking action on what matters, where it matters:

  • Introducing accident prevention technologies

Hyundai develops and provides tools that can facilitate safe driving on top of the basic driving and braking features.

Emergency driver assist system: The introduction of the electronic vehicle control system has led to improvements in sensor accuracy and overall vehicle performance. This has led in turn to the development of active safety technology that can detect dangerous situations and take preemptive safety measures. The emergency driver assist system can analyze the location and speed of vehicles in the vicinity, detect the possibility of a collision, identify the safest route which will help to avoid a collision and prompt the driver to maneuver the vehicle out of danger. The system also constantly analyzes information from the sensors mounted at the front and rear ends of the vehicle and analyzes the safest way to avoid any possible collision. The system can actively intervene with steering and braking inputs, adjusting them to maneuver the vehicle and driver out of emergency situations.

Autonomous emergency braking system: There is growing demand for active collision prevention systems. In Europe, a vehicle safety ratings institution has had a policy that would make it obligatory for vehicles to be equipped with autonomous emergency braking systems since 2014. Hyundai’s system detects a potential collision based on inputs from sensors installed in the vehicle and sends a warning alert. It applies brakes autonomously when necessary to protect drivers and the vehicle from a possible collision. The system can detect stationary or slow-moving vehicles and pedestrians, which helps prevent collisions at low speeds and reduces collision damage at higher speeds.

Rear-side alert system: Hyundai was the first Korean company to create an alert system that uses radar to detect vehicles approaching in blind spots on both rear sides when a driver changes lanes and applied it to the 2012 Equus. This system further improves the safety of drivers and passengers.

  • Implementing technologies that reduce injuries in a collision

To minimize collision injuries in case of an inevitable collision, Hyundai ensures maximum robustness of its vehicles and provides cutting-edge airbags and seatbelts. Vehicle front ends absorb crash energy for the safety of pedestrians and devices mounted at the front can automatically contact first responders when an accident occurs.

Pedestrian protection technology: Pedestrian protection technology minimizes the impact of a pedestrian-vehicle accident. Hyundai has developed an active hood system, one of best ways to reduce pedestrian impact during a collision. This technology has been applied to the Genesis, Aslan and the all new Tucson. In addition, energy-absorbing structures and materials on the bumpers and hoods of vehicles help to minimize injury in the event of a pedestrian collision.

Robust body structure: Hyundai’s mid-to long-term platform strategy has committed it to developing a robust yet lightweight vehicle frame optimized for each vehicle model. The vehicle frame is the main structure that affects driving performance, noise and vibration while also protecting passengers. Hyundai develops robust vehicle frames that are capable of handling collisions with the front, sides and rear as well as overturns. Hyundai uses very high tensile steel for more than 50% of the car body and also uses lightweight materials such as aluminum and carbon composites, to develop lightweight yet robust frame structures which can enhance fuel efficiency and improve collision safety.

Device to reduce personal injury: In the event of a collision, passengers risk severe injury due to their own kinetic energy, even if a robust vehicle frame minimizes deformation of the passenger cabin. Hyundai uses a technology that minimizes impact on passengers by forcibly tensioning the seat belt reel at the moment of impact to reduce injuries to the head, chest and abdomen. In addition, the six-airbag system, including front airbags for the driver and passenger, front side airbags, curtain airbags and rollover sensors, is simultaneously deployed to absorb the remaining kinetic energy of the passengers, to minimize severe injuries. Airbag pressure and deployment time automatically vary according to the nature of the collision, which helps with passenger safety. Hyundai also leads in protecting infant and child passengers by offering a child seat as a standard feature.

  • Conducting vehicle safety tests for improved safety

Hyundai models have earned exceptional safety ratings in tests in Korea and overseas. The new Genesis received a record-breaking score of 96.6 in the new vehicle safety test and was awarded “2014 Safe Car of the Year” by the Korean Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transport. It also achieved the highest score ever in the Australasian New Car Assessment Program testing – 36.9 points out of a possible 37, and a maximum five-star safety rating. In the U.S., it was named a Top Safety Pick (TSP+), along with the new Sonata, by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (II HS) and became the world’s first sedan model to receive good ratings in every facet of the II HS crash test. These are the results of Hyundai’s efforts to manufacture vehicles with high safety ratings.

Which GRI indicators/Standards have been addressed?

The GRI indicator addressed in this case is: G4-PR1: Percentage of significant product and service categories for which health and safety impacts are assessed for improvement and the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 416-1 Assessment of the health and safety impacts of product and service categories

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by Hyundai, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) http://www.fbrh.co.uk/en/global-reporting-initiative-gri-g4-guidelines-download-page

3) https://g4.globalreporting.org/Pages/default.aspx

4) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

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