The prevailing winds in the present automotive industry are leading manufacturers to invest heavily in electric mobility. Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and others have committed to electrifying their vehicle lineups.
Hyundai, once again, is doing things a little differently. Not that the company isn’t a believer in electric cars – it already offers two models that don’t have a combustion engine under the hood. But perhaps more than any other manufacturer, Hyundai sees enormous potential in hydrogen.
The Korean automaker has just doubled its investment in developing this “new” form of energy, bringing its total commitment to $6.7 billion USD. The funds are folded into a program called FCEV Vision 2030 (FCEV for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle), under which the Group hopes to employ around 50,000 people, most of them specialists tasked with creating a future society based on hydrogen fuel. The plan is to expand the technology to other industries.
The biggest chunk of this massive investment will be directed at increasing production of hydrogen fuel-cell systems to reach a level of 700,000 units annually by 2030. Of those, 500,000 will go to the automaker’s own vehicles. As for the rest, their use could vary and be used in everything from boats to drones to locomotives to commercial vehicles.
Hyundai, it should be noted, is active in fields that go beyond the automotive.
We will expand our role beyond the automotive transportation sector and play a pivotal role in global society's transition to clean energy by helping make hydrogen an economically viable energy source."
- Euisun Chung, Hyundai Motor Group executive vice chairman
The executive added that the company believes hydrogen will be used in many different domains and become an essential system heling drive economic growth.
Hyundai brought its Nexo fuel-cell car to the recent Los Angeles Auto Show. And as long as five years ago, the company had presented a hydrogen-powered variant of its Tucson SUV.
There’s a reality that should be cause for pause, however: sales of hydrogen-powered vehicles have never gotten off the ground in any market. The main reason for this is the lack of a proper infrastructure for FCEV vehicles. Building up a network of refilling stations is an extremely expensive process, much more costly than recharging station networks for electric vehicles.
From the point of view of today, the idea that hydrogen could become a go-to energy source for vehicles seems a little unrealistic, if not far-fetched.
Hyundai is clearly of a different view, and unfazed by the challenges. It wants to be selling two million units of fuel-cells vehicles annually by 2030.