YONGIN, South Korea -- Kia will get a fuel cell vehicle within around three years, a top Hyundai Group executive says.
The brand will hit the hydrogen highway by 2020 as part of Hyundai's multiprong eco car rollout through the end of the decade. The Kia fuel cell will arrive after the group's next-generation fuel cell system debuts in 2018 in a Hyundai-branded entry, said Lee Ki-sang, senior vice president of the Eco Technology Center developing cars for both Hyundai and Kia.
Hyundai Motor Group is staggering the FCV launches for two reasons, Lee said in an interview here last week at the South Korean manufacturer's fuel cell development lab south of Seoul.
First, the group doesn't have the vast resources needed to simultaneously test, validate and launch fuel cell vehicles in both brands, Lee said.
Second, the group can better drive down costs by launching fuel cell technologies first in the larger Hyundai brand. Hyundai is more upscale and can more easily absorb higher sticker prices. As volumes climb and costs fall, the technology can migrate down market to Kia.
Lee did not specify what global markets will receive the Kia version.
By 2020, the market for fuel cell vehicles will start heating up, with hydrogen entries expected from Daimler, BMW, Toyota, Honda and General Motors, Lee said.
"We thought that was good timing to introduce a fuel cell to the market in Kia," Lee said. "In the meantime, we will reduce the material costs dramatically."