Hyundai Motor to phase out combustion engines for commercial vehicles from 2028

Even as it continues to roll out battery-electric cars, Korea's largest vehicle maker is laying plans to launch a slew of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the next decade. PHOTO: HYUNDAI MOTOR

SEOUL - Korean automotive group Hyundai Motor intends to produce only hydrogen fuel cell or battery-electric commercial vehicles by 2028, making it the first manufacturer to address the carbon footprint left by the most pollutive vehicle segment.

Even as it continues to roll out battery-electric cars, Korea's largest vehicle-maker is laying plans to launch a slew of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the next decade.

In a global online forum on Tuesday (Sept 7), Hyundai said it will introduce new technologies and mobility solutions in transportation and industry.

Group chairman Euisun Chung said: "Hyundai Motor Group's vision is to apply hydrogen energy in all areas of life and industry such as our homes, work-places and factories. The goal is to make hydrogen readily used for everyone, everything, and everywhere."

Mr Chung said he envisions a "worldwide hydrogen society by 2040".

Since the development of its first fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) in 1998, Hyundai has launched a number of mass-produced FCEV models.

In 2013, it introduced the Tucson FCEV. Then, in 2018, the company launched the Nexo SUV.

Last year, it launched the Xcient - the world's first heavy-duty fuel cell lorry. It is currently developing a tractor based on the Xcient for release in 2023.

According to the Hydrogen Council, a global chief executive-led initiative of leading energy, transport, industry and investment companies, hydrogen energy will account for 18 per cent of global energy demand by 2050, with a market size of US$2.5 trillion ($3.36 trillion).

Hydrogen usage is expected to help cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than six billion tonnes a year, while creating over 30 million new jobs.

Hyundai aims to make hydrogen energy available to "everyone, everything and everywhere" from 2040.

At the forum, Hyundai unveiled its Trailer Drone concept, a hydrogen-powered container hauler with a range of more than 1,000km on a full tank, and which can operate autonomously.

The company will develop a 5m to 7m fuel cell vehicle to target the global light-commercial vehicle market, which is projected to account for sales of seven million unit a year by 2030.

It said it will expand the scope of fuel cell systems and technologies to all areas of the energy sector, including the provision of electricity and heating to buildings, urban energy sources and power plants.

To achieve this, Hyundai plans to introduce a new generation fuel cell system in 2023 that costs less and is more efficient than current systems. It expects hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to achieve price parity with battery-electric models by 2030.

At the forum, the company showcased two versions of its third-generation fuel cell stack: 100kW and 200kW. The 100kW stack is 30 per cent smaller than current versions, while the 200kW stack has double the output of current versions.

Its second-generation fuel cell stack launched in 2018 had a useful life of 5,000 hours and 160,000km. The third-generation stacks are expected to last 50 per cent to 100 per cent longer, with versions for commercial vehicles targeted to last 500,000km.

Hyundai also showcased a hydrogen sports car concept. The Vision FK is a 500kW rear-wheel drive car, which is expected to hit 100kmh in less than 4 seconds. It combines a fuel cell system with a plug-in battery powertrain developed with Croatian electric supercar specialist Rimac, and has a range of over 600km.

South Korea is among a small group of countries pursuing a hydrogen economy. In recent years, it has added several hydrogen fuel cell buses to its public transport fleets despite high costs. Others include Australia, China and Japan.

Two years ago, Singapore awarded a hydrogen feasibility study to American engineering giant Kellogg Brown & Root for $867,000. The study was to assess the feasibility of importing hydrogen for downstream uses, ranging from vehicle fuelling to power generation.

In April this year, oil company Shell said it is working with Sembcorp Marine and high-speed craft builder Penguin International on a trial to use hydrogen fuel cells for ships in Singapore.

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