Montreal, Canada 09.06.2021 — Fuel Cells Works attended Hyundai’s Wave Forum event where Hyundai presented its vision of how hydrogen can fit into the mobility sector to reduce its emissions. At the event Hyundai demonstrated a concept vehicle using fuel cell technology called the “e-Bogie”, which basically looks like the platform a traditional bogie (train car) is built on. However, the e-Bogie is designed for roads and ports instead of rails. The wheels on the e-Bogie are able to all turn enabling it to fit into tight spots or go around sharp corners, like a roundabout, with much greater ease than current diesel trucks are able to. While the e-Bogie is a concept vehicle it is light years ahead of the thinking behind Shell Oil’s Starship 2.0, and really shows the lack of forward thinking that is rampant amongst oil and gas companies presently.
Hyundai also talked about the admirable progress it has made in reducing the cost of the fuel cell stack, increasing its reliability, and shrinking the size of the stack. It has gone from creating stacks that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to ones that cost less than $75,000. Hyundai demonstrated an evolution of fuel cell technology that has been done in the space of about 22 years that, comparatively speaking, took internal combustion engines about 100 years to achieve. Hyundai’s third generation fuel cell stack which it is expecting to release with the 2023 Nexo will pack about 100kW while being about half the size of its original fuel cell stack.
Two other future vehicles that were showcased today were its HTWO which is basically a vehicle designed to provide mobile refueling to stranded BEVs and FCEVs, and also an e-Bogie mated with a drone in order to provide autonomous operation in an event like a fire.
At Hyundai’s Q&A session after the media announcement Hyundai was very clear that it does not see BEVs and FCEVs as competing technologies, but instead complementary technologies that are designed to help achieve zero emissions and address the specific mobility needs of end users. In fact, Hyundai’s Saehoon Kim stated that Hyundai is technology neutral and also said that “every technology that uses green hydrogen should be promoted.” He went on to mention that he hopes that Toyota will succeed in its hydrogen endeavors. Hyundai’s leadership was also very clear that the need for a global zero emissions economy cannot be achieved by one government or one company, and it is looking for partners across the private and public spectrum. Euisun Chung, Hyundai’s chairman, said that as a company Hyundai felt a responsibility to be proactive and develop FCEV technology given the environmental decay of the world. To achieve its announced goal “to become the first automaker to apply fuel cell systems to all commercial vehicle models by 2028,” Hyundai is anticipating on ceasing to spend R&D or design new model internal combustion engines. In the near term, internal combustion engines will still be part of Hyundai’s product offerings, but Hyundai has the long-term goal of focusing on BEV and FCEV technologies.
Overall, the Wave Forum gave a useful insight into Hyundai’s view of the future where mobility is concerned, but it also served as a reminder that responsible automakers do not see the world in an us and them perspective. Instead, companies like Hyundai understand that competition and cooperation have to both play a part in successfully bringing about a future where the vast majority of end users demand zero emission vehicles (ZEVs). Only time will tell if others in the global economy will join a company like Hyundai and bring about a zero emission economy that not only creates a healthier world but a more profitable one as well.