Hyundai’s XCIENT Fuel Cell Hitting the Road in California

By July 26, 2021 5   min read  (941 words)

July 26, 2021 |

Fuel Cells Works, Hyundai's XCIENT Fuel Cell Hitting the Road in California
  • Hyundai Motor to collaborate with public and private partners to deploy Class 8 fuel cell electric trucks for regional freight distribution in California
  • NorCAL ZERO, where Hyundai supplies 30 XCIENT Fuel Cell by early 2023, to be the largest deployment of Class 8 hydrogen-powered vehicles in the U.S.
  • Hyundai is committed to developing hydrogen mobility ecosystem through close cooperation with local partners

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. and SEOUL, South Korea — Hyundai Motor Company today announced its plan to deploy the company’s latest hydrogen fuel cell electric heavy-duty trucks in California, for two publicly funded projects to improve the air quality in the region.

The demo trucks that Hyundai will bring into the United States are developed based on XCIENT Fuel Cell, the world’s first mass-produced, heavy-duty truck powered by hydrogen.

Debuting last year in Switzerland, XCIENT Fuel Cell has proven its commercial viability through more than one million kilometers of driving in real-world conditions. The U.S. model provides a maximum driving range of 500 miles, or about 800 kilometers.

Hyundai will leverage insights gained from these public projects to develop it’s zero-emission commercial fleet business in the U.S. and establish local partnerships across the value chain.

Deploying 30 XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks in northern California by early 2023

Hyundai Motor teamed with public and private partners in the U.S. to operate 30 units of Class 8 XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks, starting from the second quarter of 2023. This will be the largest commercial deployment of Class 8 hydrogen-powered fuel cell trucks in the U.S.

A consortium led by the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) and Hyundai Motor recently won $22 million in grants from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) and $7 million in additional grants from the Alameda County Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in support of this project.

Hyundai’s NorCAL ZERO project, also known as Zero-Emission Regional Truck Operations with Fuel Cell Electric Trucks, will deploy 30 units of Class 8 XCIENT Fuel Cell, with a 6×4 drive axle configuration, to northern California by the second quarter of 2023. Glovis America, a logistics service provider, will be the fleet operator of these trucks. Macquarie’s Specialized and Asset Finance business, part of its Commodities and Global Markets division, will finance the trucks through a lease to the operator.

“We are proud to fund this hallmark deployment of 30 hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks and improve the air quality in Northern California,” said Hannon Rasool, Deputy Director of Fuels and Transportation Division at the California Energy Commission. “These investments will support zero-emission trucks and infrastructure development and deployment as part of the US market ecosystem. Public and private project partners have come together to take a big step forward in decarbonizing freight and goods movement, as part of CARB and CEC’s clean air initiatives.”

The consortium also plans to establish a high-capacity hydrogen refueling station in Oakland, California that will be able to support as many as 50 trucks with an average fill of 30 kilograms.

12-month pilot program with fleet partner to operate two XCIENT Fuel Cell

Hyundai Motor was also awarded a $500,000 grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) to demonstrate in Southern California two Class 8 XCIENT Fuel Cell heavy-duty trucks. Largely funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the project contributes to the attainment of clean air standards in the South Coast Air Basin by reducing emissions from diesel trucks.

Hyundai Motor and its fleet partner plan to begin operating these trucks in August. They will be used for long-haul freight operations between warehouses in southern California for a 12-month period. Hyundai will also work with the market leader in hydrogen refueling stations in California, First Element Fuel (FEF), to utilize three hydrogen refueling stations in the region to refuel the trucks.

“We look forward to seeing this important fuel cell project from Hyundai come to life,” said Ben J. Benoit, South Coast AQMD’s Governing Board chair. “The development of long-haul zero-emission truck technology is key to reducing emissions that will provide immediate benefits to our air and our communities.”

Hyundai Motor was able to gain the support of California funding agencies and local communities to demonstrate its hydrogen fuel cell heavy-duty commercial vehicles, in large part due to the XCIENT Fuel Cell truck’s proven track record in Europe. In 2020, Hyundai announced its plan to deliver 1,600 XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks to Europe by 2025. The first 46 units were delivered to Switzerland last year, and they have cumulatively driven more than one million kilometers, or about 620,000 miles, in 11 months of service. During that time, the fleet has reduced CO2 emissions by an estimated 630 tons, compared to diesel-powered vehicles.

The Class 8 XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks that Hyundai will deploy in California will have a maximum driving range of 500 miles, because the hydrogen will be stored in greater quantity on the vehicle in tanks rated at 700 bar, or about 10,000 psi, of pressure. The maximum gross combination weight of Class 8 XCIENT Fuel Cell truck will be more than 37 tons, or about 82,000 lbs.

Based on the experience gathered from the initial demonstrations, Hyundai will accelerate its effort to officially launch its zero-emission commercial trucks in North America. Hyundai is already in talks with multiple logistics and commercial companies that are interested in leveraging hydrogen technology for their freight delivery and drayage services in the U.S. In the long-term, Hyundai will strive to establish hydrogen value chains with local partners by introducing diverse commercial vehicle lineups powered by hydrogen.

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