South Korean automaker Hyundai announced 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.”