- Hydrogen Fuel Excavator development to start in 2020 with a target date for mass-distribution set in 2023
- Hydrogen fuel cells are more compatible with large construction equipment because of easier capacity expansion than lithium batteries
- The agreement is expected to give Hyundai Construction Equipment a chance to lead the future hydrogen-powered equipment market and to secure a better position in establishing a global standard
Ulsan, South Korea–Hyundai Construction Equipment has recently joined forces with Hyundai Motor Group to develop the world’s first hydrogen-powered construction equipment. Last February, Hyundai Construction Equipment signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the joint-development of hydrogen fuel cell construction equipment with Hyundai Motors and Hyundai Mobis at its Mabuk Research Center in Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do. Together, the three companies will look to develop hydrogen-powered forklifts and medium/large-capacity, hydrogen-powered excavators, over the next few years.
According to the MOU, Hyundai Motors and Hyundai Mobis will design and manufacture hydrogen fuel cell systems, including power packs, while Hyundai Construction Equipment will design, manufacture, and evaluate the performance of excavators and forklifts. The target date for mass production and distribution has been set to 2023.
Unlike conventional diesel engine-based equipment, hydrogen-based electric construction equipment uses electricity produced through the chemical reactions between hydrogen and oxygen as its power source, meaning no emissions of toxic gases into the air. Given the rapidly rising demand for eco-friendly equipment around the world in recent years, hydrogen-based construction equipment is expected to help Hyundai Construction Equipment compete in the global construction market moving forward.
Furthermore, compared to lithium batteries, which have been marred by structural issues limiting various attempts to increase battery capacity, hydrogen fuel cells are much easier to expand, making them a much more logical choice for large forklifts or excavators.
The partnership between Hyundai Construction Equipment, which has more than 540 dealers across more than 140 countries around the world, and Hyundai Motors, which has some of the best hydrogen fuel cell technology in the world, is expected to give the construction equipment industry a boost in terms of creating a hydrogen-based ecosystem, which is something all industry stakeholders are anticipating eagerly.
Hwang Jong-hyun, Head of the R&D Division for Hyundai Material Handling at Hyundai Construction Equipment, said, “With this latest agreement, we’ve prepared a foundation upon which we can secure core technology in hydrogen-powered construction equipment ahead of our competitors. Hyundai Construction Equipment will do its very best to meet the challenges that lie ahead as countries around the world attempt to establish global standards in terms of certifying the performance of equipment and legislating relevant laws for the commercialization of hydrogen-powered construction equipment, and play a leading role in the market moving forward.”
Meanwhile, Hyundai Construction Equipment has continued to focus on developing eco-friendly construction equipment and machinery in recent years. It mass-produced the first reel-type electric excavator (wired-type equipment used with its power cable plugged in) in 2010, and in 2018, developed a small electric excavator equipped with a large capacity battery for the first time in Korea.