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Hyundai Aims to Re-Energize Commercial Vehicle Market with Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology, Says GlobalData

Following the news that South Korean automaker Hyundai plans to offer hydrogen fuel cell versions of all its commercial vehicles by 2028;

Bakar Sadik Agwan, Senior Automotive Consulting Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“Hyundai’s announcement to feature fuel cell electric or battery electric powertrains, as well as the application of fuel cell systems to all commercial models by 2028 is a ‘bold’ move by the company. However, prima-facie the target looks tough to achieve given the limited supply-demand trends for fully electric commercial vehicles presently, especially trucks. Hyundai has pioneered hydrogen tech in commercial vehicles with commercialization of its all-fuel-cell truck – the Hyundai XCIENT launched in 2020.

“Under its Hydrogen Vision 2040 that aims to achieve carbon neutrality, Hyundai wants to make hydrogen-based vehicles a key part of commercial transportation system. The auto company definitely have the first mover advantage in the hydrogen technology and the technology have some obvious benefits. But the cost-inflation that it brings compared to peer technologies such as hybrid and battery-electric will certainly pose a challenge for its wider adoption.

“However, Hyundai plans to achieve significant cost reduction via economy of scale and bring its hydrogen vehicles at par with battery-electric by 2030. It will be an important milestone for Hyundai if achieved. But, at a time when automakers are starving for boosting EV adoption in commercial vehicles, which is quite in early stage, it won’t be an easy to make hydrogen technology a mass commercial success. Hyundai’s XCIENT accounts for quite small volume sales, target sales by 2025 is 1,600 units.

“On a positive note, the hydrogen plan is a ‘win’ situation for Hyundai anyways. The market for FCEV development is less crowded as most passenger and commercial automakers are more focused on the mass adoption of battery-electric technology barring a few companies. This will give Hyundai a competitive edge in the fuel cell commercial vehicle market which will emerge as a key battle ground over mid-to-long-term.”


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