Hyundai Sees Hydrogen Vehicles As Ten Years Behind Battery Cars—And Is Pushing Both

Hyundai Sees Hydrogen Vehicles As Ten Years Behind Battery Cars—And Is Pushing Both
Hyundai Sees Hydrogen Vehicles As Ten Years Behind Battery Cars—And Is Pushing Both

In addition to plans to develop hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, Hyundai is developing heavy-duty hydrogen-powered trucks.

Hyundai Motor has a high-profile electric hatchback coming to the U.S. in the coming weeks. The company also showcased an intriguing concept model of a battery-powered SUV midsize in Los Angeles this month. But even while preparing to challenge Tesla in EVs, Hyundai Motor has a plan to take on Tesla in EVs. Korean industrial giant is preparing to make hydrogen power to the masses, though it’s a possibility that might not be viable until the end of the decade.

Hyundai this year revealed that it would launch the latest model of the hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology for trucks and cars, which is twice as efficient with a 30% reduction in size and cost half the price than its predecessor. But, hydrogen technology is akin to what battery-powered automobiles were back in the early 2010s, according to Jose Munoz, chief operating officer of the Seoul-based automaker and the head of business in the Americas.

“At the time, people were still asking, “Is this going on? That’s not the case. There is no infrastructure. People will not like it. There’s now (charging) infrastructure. The technology has advanced. The ranges are greater, and the features are fantastic. Most importantly, those who purchase one are saying they’ll get another,” Monoz tells Forbes. “Hydrogen is currently going through the same phase, which is inventing an innovative technology. However, we require better (fueling) infrastructure since it’s still very inaccessible. In terms of reactions of consumers when they operate a vehicle fuelled by hydrogen, it is a dazzling reaction.”

Elon Musk has long dismissed hydrogen as a possible zero-emission fuel, pointing out its inefficiency compared to batteries and describing this technology as” fool cells.” However, similar to his disdain for the laser lidar for autonomous vehicles — or uncertain assertions about the speed at which Tesla can perfect its self-driving technology — Hyundai as well as significant truck and auto manufacturers like Toyota, General Motors, Daimler and Volvo and start-up Nikola along with engine makers Cummins offer a more comprehensive perspective, recognizing hydrogen and batteries as vital technologies to green vehicles. In the case of Hyundai, the company is astonished to have optimistic expectations for the most abundant element in the universe as a origin of power.

Moniz, the automaker, “is aggressively developing hydrogen technologies and fuel cell applications for transportation, homes, and industry,” Moniz declared in a talk on the Los Angeles Auto Show this month. “We envision a future in which hydrogen is the primary power source for everyone, everything, everywhere.”

The battery and the fuel cell are both electric and share the same motors and many other elements. The primary distinction lies in the storage capacity of batteries. Electric power while fuel cells transfer it to the vehicle whenever needed. This is an electrochemical process that extracts electrons from hydrogen pushed through the membranes of fuel cells. In addition to electricity, the primary byproduct is water gas. Outside of trucks, cars, and forklifts, they’ve been utilized by NASA for decades. They are stationary electricity generators and are currently being designed to power trains and ferry ships and vessels.

It’s Hyundai Seven electronic crossover debuted during the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show.

But supporters of the fuel are working to address the significant issues that the technology must overcome. Beat the high cost of stacks of fuel cells and hydrogen tanks, which make the vehicles more expensive than vehicles powered with carbon-based batteries or carbon-based fuels. Furthermore, the availability of “green” hydrogen fuel sourced from water and renewable energy sources or waste materials has to multiply to achieve the most efficient carbon reduction. As of September, Hyundai predicted that its fuel cell technology could be at the exact battery power cost in 2030.

The car was on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show, along with Hyundai’s brand new electrical Ioniq 5 hatchback, a less expensive competitor against Tesla’s Model Y that goes on sale later this year, as well as its battery-powered Seven crossover that could become available in 2024, the company also showcased it’s Nexo Fuel Cell SUV which is already on sale in California and the Xcient’s fuel cell semi-truck that’s going to be available in the state.

California is the most popular market for hydrogen vehicles within the U.S., with 12,082 operating on November 1 and 48 hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles per the California Fuel Cell Partnership. Forty-seven hydrogen stations are publically accessible in the state, and an additional 127 stations are planned. In the same measure, there were 835,500 plug-in electric cars within the form in 2020. There were also 73,000 charging stations for electric vehicles.

To make it easier for people to purchase a fuel-cell-powered electric vehicle, Moniz said Hyundai is looking to assist dealerships with hydrogen fuel stations. In the southern part of California, this could be between three to five stations.

“We are helping our dealers get the hydrogen infrastructure in place, in the key markets where there is a demand for hydrogen products,” he added. “Also, we’re partnering on the project with Shell, which will see us co-developing the 50 hydrogen stations that we will have by 2030, mostly in California. That’s the first phase.”

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Adam Collins
Adam writes about technology, business and economics. With master's degree in Economics, he's presented six papers in international conferences. As a solivagant in the constant state of fernweh, curiosity is the main weapon in his arsenal.

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