Jul 21

Hyundai Delivers First Hydrogen Fuel Cell Trucks to Switzerland

Stephen Bierman
Oct 9, 2020

Image: Hyundai

Hyundai motor company delivered its first seven of the world’s first mass-produced fuel cell electric heavy-duty trucks to Switzerland on Oct. 7 as automakers make moves into transport running on clean fuels such as hydrogen.

The Seoul-based company said it plans to deliver a total of 50 such trucks to Switzerland this year – and that could increase to 1,600 commercial fuel cell trucks, used to hau everything from food to cars around Europe, by 2025.

Hydrogen, which can produce energy while only emitting water as a byproduct, has become an attractive source of fuel for European nations in their efforts to combat global warming. Due to technical concerns and transport specifics it is seen as preferable to battery-power in long haul trips such as deep sea shipping, aviation and trucking.

Yet purifying hydrogen into a usable form for fuel remains a much pricier alternative to traditional fuels. The European Union seeks to replicate approaches to solar and wind energy developed over the past decade. A combination of scale and technology has drastically reduced the price of renewable power generation, to the point where it is now competitive with other power sources.

In fact, the EU specifically aims to marry the two energy sources over the long term, with renewable power generating hydrogen production, or green hydrogen.

Hyundai appears to be on board with this idea, saying it plans to be involved in developing a hydrogen ecosystem with a “business case” for more than 100 hydrogen fueling stations in Switzerland. In 2019, Hyundai Motor Company formed Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility (HHM), a joint venture with Swiss company H2 Energy. HHM also is partnering with Hydrospider, a joint venture of H2 Energy, Alpiq and Linde. Customers will be leasing XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks from HHM on a pay-per-use basis that does not require an initial investment.

There is still a long way to go before such infrastructure exists. For the truckers in the world of big ideas, it appears the next stop is the US and China.

“With successful delivery of the first XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks, we proudly announce our plan to expand beyond Europe to North America and China where we are already making great progress,” said In Cheol Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of Commercial Vehicle Division at Hyundai Motor.

Hyundai’s push to produce hydrogen-powered trucks shows that multiple industries are moving towards cutting emissions in Europe. Oil producers are now “energy producers,” shifting significant parts of their investment into renewables and clean fuels. Yet the process will remain methodical if not slow as hydrogen production, especially green hydrogen, takes time to cut costs and move to scale.

Stephen Bierman

Stephen Bierman is a finance and energy reporter with over 15 years of experience, including at Bloomberg News and Energy Intelligence.

Tweets at: @StephenBierman1

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