Hyundai has unveiled a new hydrogen strategy, including a commitment to apply hydrogen fuel cell systems to all models by 2028, in the same week that rival Toyota confirmed plans to spend more than $13.5bn on electric vehicle (EV) tech by 2030.
Hyundai’s global hydrogen strategy is headlined by a vision to popularise green hydrogen in the transport and industrial sectors by 2040. While hydrogen is touted as a solution for decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors, it is not, in and of itself, low-carbon. More than 90% of global hydrogen production last year was fossil-fuel-based (also known as grey).
The strategy features plans for a hydrogen version of all commercial Hyundai models to be brought to market by 2028. The Korean brand anticipates that hydrogen models will reach price parity with battery-powered EVs by 2030.
To help deliver this commitment, the company is planning to launch its next-generation hydrogen fuel cell system in 2023. There will be two variations, 100kW and 200kW. Testing of the system has confirmed a doubling of power output. Crucially, the new systems cost just half as much to manufacture as their predecessors.
Hyundai has been selling hydrogen passenger cars since 2013, when it launched a version of the Tuscon equipped with fuel cell system. It has since launched a hydrogen SUV, the Nexo, and truck, the XCIENT Fuel Cell.
Plans for a hydrogen tractor and a purpose-built vehicle (PBV) for the European light commercial vehicle market are now in the works, with launches due in 2023. Looking further ahead, Hyundai has announced pilot concepts including a high-performance sports car and an autonomous container transportation vehicle.
“Hyundai Motor Group’s vision is to apply hydrogen energy in all areas of life and industry such as our homes, workplaces and factories; the goal is to make hydrogen readily used for everyone, everything, and everywhere,” said chairman Euisun Chung.
“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.
“By developing advanced technologies and innovative systems – as well as encouraging close collaboration between public and private sectors across the globe – it is possible to make this sustainable vision a reality for all.”
Hyundai is expecting that battery and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will account for 80% of its sales by 2040.
The announcement from Hyundai came on the same day that a new investment fund, designed to help scale up the green hydrogen sector, was launched by JCB heir Jo Bramford. Called HyCap, the fund has already raised £200m and is targeting £1bn.
Bamford is notably also chair of UK-based bus manufacturer Wrightbus, which specialises in hydrogen vehicles; founder of hydrogen production investor Ryze; and a long-term investor in ITM Power, which has a hydrogen refuelling division.
Bloomberg Intelligence is forecasting that hydrogen will account for 10% of the world’s final energy consumption by 2050. The proportion will, by its predictions, stand at 25% for road transport.
In related news, Toyota has outlined plans to spend more than $13.5bn on EV battery supply chains and R&D activities by the end of the decade.
The investment, the company stated, will be allocated to help it reduce the cost of batteries by some 30%. Additionally, Toyota is seeking to improve range and to further explore earlier-stage innovations including solid-state batteries, which are more energy-dense and faster-charging than liquid models.
The commitment comes after Toyota committed to becoming a carbon-neutral business by 2050 – a vision backed by a commitment to exit any industry association lobbying against stricter climate-related legislation.
Toyota has not yet, however, outlined plans to stop selling cars or other vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs) before 2050, as many of its competitors have.