As the first automaker that produced fuel cell vehicles, Hyundai Motor Co., plans to unveil a new hydrogen-powered SUV with longer driving range. Driving range will be longer than the rival offerings by Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. as it attempts to reclaim leadership in the field.
According to The Drive, Kim Sae-hoon, head of fuel research, said that the new SUV will debut during the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang next year. He also said that Hyundai wants to get back on top and lead the changes in terms of technology. The reasons Hyundai lost the fuel-cell leadership to Toyota is due to an undeveloped fuel cell infrastructure in South Korea and the high costs of its fuel cell cars overseas.
They have sold only 242 of their ix35 fuel cell vehicles, while Toyota sold 2,050 Miras. On top of that, the South Korea doesn’t have the infrastructure to support the fuel-cell powered cars. They have merely 10 hydrogen charging stations which are all for research and not for commercial use. Japan, on the other hand, has 79 charging stations with 12 more in the works.
According to Bloomberg, South Korea is going to help Hyundai’s push for fuel-cell cars. They started a government-industry group with a goal to put 10,000 fuel cell vehicles on the road, and export 14,000 fuel cell vehicles abroad and set up 100 charging stations at home by 2020. Hyundai and Kia also plan to have 28 eco-friendly models by 2020, including a Kia fuel-cell car and a luxury Genesis electric vehicle.
Hyundai also plans to produce nine eco-friendly vehicles in China which is the company’s biggest market. They’re considering working with Chinese battery suppliers given the competitive price in the market. They plan to start selling their first plug-in hybrid car with the latest Sonata model next year. Kim added that they look forward to China’s move to expand the fuel-cell market. If China pushes harder, the fuel-cell market may come faster.