Going against the grain, it seems.
Hyundai Motor Group, which encompasses its namesake brand, Kia, and upmarket marque Genesis, have made a decision on hydrogen fuel-cell mobility. Despite the industry moving readily and steadily towards electric mobility, and the Koreans moving steadily and readily into the mainstream, they’ve gone all weird again and will commit US$6.7-billion into the further research, development, and production-preparation of hydrogen fuel cell technology.
“We will expand our role beyond the automotive transportation sector and play a pivotal role in global society’s transition to clean energy by helping make hydrogen an economically viable energy source. We are confident that hydrogen power will transcend the transportation sector and become a leading global economic success.” – Euisun Chung, Executive Vice Chairman, Hyundai Motor Group
Earlier this week, the Group held a groundbreaking ceremony in Chungju, South Korea where they will build a second fuel-cell system factory. In doing so, they will increase output capacity of such systems to 40,000 units a year, achievable by 2022.
This capacity will come in handy as the Korean company moves towards its achieving its goals to sell no less than 500,000 FCEV passenger cars by then, and a further 200,000 commercial products (like drones, vessels, and rolling stock). This is further backed by the South Korean government, who have already committed to roll out 4,000 FCEVs next year, and establish 310 hydrogen stations throughout the country.
This move will bring total annual production capacity (of both plants) to a staggering 700,000 units and create 51,000 jobs over the next 12-years. All of this, on the back of technology that Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has called “mind-bogglingly stupid,” though it must be said that Musk has his own hat in the ring that is decidedly against the progress of hydrogen.
Of course, Hyundai is not alone in the pursuit of hydrogen mobility – Toyota has long pushed for the offering of hydrogen as an alternative fuel source, with its only emissions being water vapour. What’s traditionally hampered hydrogen production is the lack of infrastructure, and the rather costly & complex process of procuring hydrogen. But if Hyundai has its way… this may scale up very quickly, very soon.