Hyundai’s goals seem ambitious, especially in such a short timeframe. The automaker has been working on hydrogen powertrains for more than 20 years, though, so it’s not as if the concept is new to its engineers. The biggest hangup is the same one EVs are experiencing right now: a proper network of stations to replenish the spent energy.
In the United States, there are only 48 hydrogen fueling stations, 47 of which are in California and one just outside of Hawaii’s capital, Honolulu. For reference, the U.S. is still growing its EV charging network and has 19,635 DC fast chargers at 5,380 locations, 11,217 of which are operated by Tesla. Hyundai specifically references the U.S. government’s support to establish hydrogen refueling locations, which means that it may be betting on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that pledges $8 billion for four “regional clean hydrogen hubs.” Hyundai may also lean on the government’s support for creating infrastructure suitable for the long-haul trucking industry instead of focusing on consumer-level output for passenger cars at first.
Saehoon Kim, executive vice president and head of Hyundai’s Fuel Cell Center, is confident the group will hit these goals in the given timeline. He concludes that while the move to hydrogen is difficult, Hyundai can lead the way. The manufacturer says it expects 80 percent of its global sales to be made up of battery-electric cars and fuel cell vehicles by 2040, meaning it will likely rely on BEV tech as a stepping stone to its hydrogen plans. In all, it aims to make hydrogen power as cheap as EVs by the decade’s end.
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