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Hyundai outlines broad hydrogen strategy; focus on commercial vehicles; cost parity with BEVs by 2030

In an online event from Seoul, Hyundai Motor Group presented plans to popularize hydrogen by 2040 through the introduction of new technologies and mobility solutions in transportation and other industrial sectors.

The Group said it will electrify all new commercial vehicle models—featuring fuel cell electric or battery electric powertrains, as well as the application of fuel cell systems—by 2028. This central target to apply its commercial vehicle lineup fully with fuel cells by 2028 will make it the first global automaker to realize such ambitions for commercial vehicle transportation, the Group said.

The vision for Hyundai Motor Group is that by 2040 hydrogen energy will be used not only for transportation but will also be applied to wider areas of industries and sectors. The Group aims to make hydrogen energy available to “Everyone, Everything and Everywhere”.

The Group has already started mass-producing an improved version of the current XCIENT Fuel Cell heavy-duty truck. It is also developing a tractor based on the XCIENT Fuel Cell that will be released in 2023. The Group also unveiled the “Trailer Drone” concept, a hydrogen-powered container transportation system capable of operating fully autonomously, with a double e-Bogie configuration.

The Group will also develop a 5- to 7-meter fuel cell PBV (Purpose Built Vehicle) to target the global light commercial vehicle market projected for seven million unit sales per year by 2030. This will be in part undertaken by an expansion in its business capabilities and applying autonomous driving and robotics to the commercial vehicle sector.

Next-generation fuel cell systems. The Group plans to introduce a new generation fuel cell system in 2023 that realizes a reduced price and volume with significantly improved durability and output. Through ongoing R&D gains, engineering teams for the Group have been able to reduce fuel cell costs significantly over the last 20 years. By ensuring price competitiveness, the Group’s goal is to achieve a fuel cell vehicle price point comparable to a battery electric vehicle by 2030.

Currently in development, the third-generation fuel cell stack will succeed NEXO’s current stack. The Group showcased two power versions of the third-generation fuel cell stack: 100 kW and 200 kW.


The 100 kW stack has reduced in size by 30%, making it easier to apply to different vehicle types and applications. The 200 kW version has been designed for commercial vehicle applications and is similar in size to the current NEXO system, but the power output has doubled.

For the second-generation fuel cell stack launched in 2018, the company achieved 5,000 hours and 160,000 kilometers of usage, which is similar to the warranty of an ICE vehicle. For the third-generation fuel cell development, the goal is to improve durability by 50-100%. High durability stacks for commercial vehicles will achieve 500,000 kilometers of drive range.

Furthermore, the price of the third-generation fuel cell stack will be reduced significantly—with projections being upwards of more than 50%—which will be the key factor to achieving cost parity of FCEVs with BEVs by 2030.

With flexibility and modularity at its core, the third-generation system can also be applied in various application forms. A new Power Unit Module can offer a range of outputs from 500 kW to 1 MW by stacking 100 kW modular units—suited for use as an emergency power system for large ships or IT companies.

The Group also revealed an innovative fuel cell Full-Flat System that lowers stack height to 25cm, allowing it to be used for various applications such as PBVs, MPVs, buses and trams by mounting the system to either the upper or lower body of the vehicle.

Concept applications. The Group also presented a number of application concepts for hydrogen fuel cells and the supporting refueling infrastructure, including:

  • Trailer Drone.The Trailer Drone concept is a hydrogen-powered container transportation system capable of operating fully autonomously. With the number of intelligently packaged hydrogen tanks tailored to the journey profile, the flexible and efficient Trailer Drone ensures more than 1,000km of sufficient range from a single charge, comparable to existing container transportation systems.

    The autonomous capabilities of the Trailer Drone were not achieved by simply repurposing technology developed for passenger car applications. The unique requirements of container transport applications and the way container terminals operate meant that engineering teams from the Group needed to completely redefine how a container maneuvers. As a result, the engineering team developed the Fuel Cell e-Bogie.

  • Fuel Cell e-Bogie. The term bogie originates from the rail industry. Rail bogies are wheel subframes that sit under every train car. The Fuel Cell e-Bogie sits under the container just like a rail bogie and is a fully enclosed system with fuel cell propulsion and fully independent four-wheel steering.

    The Trailer Drone concept requires two fuel cell e-Bogies, allowing for unprecedented maneuverability through sideways movement. The Trailer Drone can move autonomously through portside operations and tight urban environments. Efficiency is further boosted by the Cluster Mode which enables multiple Trailer Drones to travel together in an almost train-like configuration.

    The Fuel Cell e-Bogie is not exclusive to the Trailer Drone and caters to a wide value chain such as ground logistics, construction, firefighting and disaster relief missions. It offers a multi-purpose platform, capable of a variety of objectives – all in zero-emission and autonomous operation.

  • Vision FK. Fuel cell technology is equally applicable to high-performance vehicle applications. In this respect, the Group has showcased a concept hydrogen-powered hybrid sports car, named the Vision FK. With a maximum output of over 500kW, the Vision FK concept can accelerate from 0-100km/h in less than four seconds. Combining a fuel cell energy converter with a high-power, RWD, plug-in powertrain, the Vision FK aims to achieve over 600km in range.

  • Rescue Drone. The Rescue Drone is a new concept mobility solution that combines with a Fuel Cell e-Bogie to create a flying drone that can be operated remotely and autonomously for critical operations such as fire-fighting and life-saving. The Rescue Drone features an independent steering system for in-place turning maneuvers and ‘crab-walk’ driving. It can also carry out missions via images transmitted from drones mounted on the vehicle exterior and achieves a 450 to 500km driving range from a single charge.

  • H Moving Station. The H Moving Station is a heavy-duty vehicle equipped with charging facilities for FCEVs. This portable hydrogen refueling station ensures convenience as well as charging options in areas with limited hydrogen refueling stations.

  • RHGV (Rescue Hydrogen Generator Vehicle). The RHGV supplies power to vehicles in aid of urgent assistance in remote, off-road areas. The portable electric vehicle charger offers single-phase 220V and 3-phase 380V simultaneous power supply.



Video of presentation here:



I looked at the video. It is a bit long for the information conveyed but OK. At about 6:40. they hedge their bet a bit and allow that they are also considering battery electric but it is mostly about hydrogen. They do not explain very well where the energy for making hydrogen comes from but did mention electrolysis briefly.

I was somewhat surprised at the relatively large size of the fuel cells. They did acknowledge that they would need two of their 200 kW units to run a larger truck.
At one point, it seemed as if they had a fuel cell truck already on the market but then it turned out that they had only 45 trucks that were undergoing customer testing. At least their are concentrating on commercial vehicles but I would still say that it makes more sense (and cents) to go with battery electric vehicles for local delivery and short haul. Will have to see whether or not fast charging batteries become commercially available with a reasonable energy density, life, and price to make it possible to use battery electric for longer haul.

They imply that the first use of fuel cells was with space in the 1960s but Allis Chalmers started working on a fuel cell farm tractor in 1951 and by 1959 had a demonstration tractor running. I am not quite sure why they did this but it was probably an interesting engineering exercise. I know about Allis Chalmers as my driving experience was operating an Allis Chalmers tractor but they are long gone now. Also, the first knowledge of fuel cells dates back to 1838.

I somewhat like the design concept of their eBogie for moving containers but we will have to see where it goes.



If they had broached the massive subject of hydrogen production the video would have been way, way longer!

They are continuing to deliver trucks to Switzerland, and are looking to a couple of hundred or so by the end of the year, I believe, with production and deliveries ramping thereafter fairly rapidly and expanding into other countries..

With covid and supply chain disruptions I would imagine that more trucks are likely simply en route.

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