Look, we all love cars. But have you ever felt they’re missing something? We see faces in their front ends, the side mirrors can pass as ears, but where are the bodies? And, even more importantly, these are ambulatory — where are the legs? Hyundai, it seems, wants to right this grievous wrong of car design.
In fact, the company is so dedicated that it’s building an entire research and development centre in Montana with one explicit goal: Give cars legs.
Hyundai’s new R&D lab, called the New Horizons Studio, will be built at Montana State University’s “Innovation Campus” in Bozeman. The company plans to employ fifty people at the site and spend $US20 ($28) million over five years with the goal of “redefin[ing] vehicular mobility with robotics and wheeled locomotion technology.”
Hyundai says the location was chosen due to its proximity to “dozens of off-road trails with more than 241 km of terrain and mountain access,” but there’s likely another benefit at play. Montana Governor Greg Gianforte has credited the state’s recent “Montana Entrepreneur Magnet Act” with bringing new businesses to the area through the oldest trick in the book: Cutting taxes.
The Montana Entrepreneur Magnet Act, S.B. 184, sets out a number of stipulations that companies must meet in order to be eligible for the bill’s benefits. If a company qualifies, it’s entitled to “an alternative tax rate of 0%” on capital gains that come from selling stock. It’s unclear if the New Horizons Studio qualifies, as Hyundai hasn’t specified whether it’s a division of the larger automaker or some autonomous separate entity, but the Montana Secretary of State’s website doesn’t list the NHS as a separate business entity. At least, not yet.
The New Horizons Studio is set to open this June, alongside the construction of a new building to house its operations. Presumably, this will be immediately followed by prototype Ultimate Mobility Vehicle sightings throughout the streets, trails, and woods of Montana. Get your T-47 airspeeders ready, because the AT-ATs are coming to town.