Hyundai Motor Group is doubling down on its contrarian bet that hydrogen is the wave of the future, unveiling a bold rollout plan for fuel cell technology in everything from sports cars to commercial trucks and drones while targeting price parity with battery electrics by 2030.
The strategy, unveiled Tuesday under the banner of Hydrogen Wave, spells out the South Korean automaker’s ambition to popularize hydrogen power for “everyone, everything and everywhere” by 2040, not only in cars and trucks, but in public transport, industry, infrastructure and homes.
“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,” Hyundai Group Chairman Euisun Chung said while announcing the road map in an online forum, which will be followed by an on-site exhibition of the hydrogen technologies, vehicles and concepts this month in Goyang, South Korea.
“We want to offer practical solutions for the sustainable development of humanity, and with these breakthroughs we aim to help foster a worldwide Hydrogen Society by 2040,” he said.
Among the advances Hyundai targets is a next-generation fuel cell stack in 2023 that will slash costs while boosting efficiency, as well as a plan to apply fuel cell systems to all its commercial vehicles by 2028. Hyundai outlined plans for an autonomous hydrogen-powered “Trailer Drone.” And it even dangled a fuel cell sports car concept that does 0-62 mph in under four seconds.
The hydrogen blitz reinforces Hyundai Motor Group’s stance as one of only a handful of auto industry true believers in the potential of hydrogen-powered vehicles. As much of the industry dives headlong into battery electrics, Hyundai is part of a smaller club, including the likes of Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., that sees hydrogen as complementing pure EVs.
In making its pitch, Hyundai cited forecasts from the Hydrogen Council industry group predicting that hydrogen will account for 18 percent of the world’s energy demand by 2050 and that popularizing hydrogen will help cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 6 billion tons a year.
Hydrogen plays an important role in Hyundai Motor Group's multipronged approach to cutting emissions, a strategy that also includes battery electrics and hybrids.
Hyundai launched the industry's first mass-produced fuel cell passenger vehicle, the Tucson Fuel Cell, in 2013 and currently offers the Nexo fuel cell crossover and Xcient Fuel Cell heavy truck. Last year, it launched a brand called HTWO to promote the use of the H2 hydrogen molecule in developing and promoting hydrogen fuel cell systems for various transportation applications.