Hyundai Delivers the World's First Mass-Produced Fuel Cell Trucks to Customers in Switzerland

Hyundai Delivers the World's First Mass-Produced Fuel Cell Trucks to Customers in Switzerland

Author: Eric Walz   

As most of the world's car manufacturers are actively developing electric vehicles, South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Company remains focused on developing both commercial fuel cell trucks alongside passenger vehicles powered by batteries. 

Hyundai announced today that it delivered the first seven of its XCIENT fuel cell trucks to customers in Switzerland, with plans to deliver a total of 50 by the end of the year. 

Hyundai says the Xcient is the world's first mass-produced fuel cell electric heavy-duty truck.

The delivery of XCIENT Fuel Cell to Switzerland marks the official entry of Hyundai's commercial vehicles in the European market. The company is also developing commercial vehicles for the North American and China markets. 

A key to Hyundai's global expansion of fuel cell trucks will be the successful launch of Xcient Fuel Cell truck in Europe. The seven customers who received the first Xcient fuel cell trucks will use them to deliver consumer goods around Switzerland. The operations will be backed by a robust green hydrogen ecosystem, Hyundai said.

The Xcient truck is powered by a 190-kW hydrogen fuel cell system with two 95-kW fuel cell stacks. Seven large hydrogen tanks offer a combined storage capacity of around 70 lbs (32.09 kg) of hydrogen.

The driving range per charge for Xcient Fuel Cell is about 248 miles (400 km), which was developed to meet the needs of commercial customers and the available hydrogen filling stations in Switzerland. Refueling with hydrogen takes approximately 8 to 20 minutes, much faster than it would take to charge an fully-electric truck's battery pack. 

In the next several years, Hyundai will introduce a redesigned Xcient Fuel Cell that will be built on a dedicated hydrogen fuel cell truck platform. The new model will feature two larger 200-kW fuel cell systems that are currently in development. 

The zero emissions fuel cell trucks are a viable alternative for the shipping industry, as the bigger trucks can accommodate the hydrogen storage capacity to achieve longer ranges. In addition, the zero emissions trucks will help with the European Union to achieve its goal of reducing greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

"The delivery of Xcient Fuel Cell starts a new chapter not only for Hyundai's hydrogen push, but also the global community's use of hydrogen as a clean energy source," said In Cheol Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of Commercial Vehicle Division at Hyundai Motor. "Today's delivery is just a beginning as it opens endless possibilities for clean mobility. With successful delivery of the first Xcient Fuel Cell trucks, we proudly announce our plan to expand beyond Europe to North America and China where we are already making great progress."

Hyundai said that production capacity of the Xcient Fuel Cell will reach 2,000 units per year by 2021 in order to support its expansion into Europe, the U.S. and China, as demand grows for zero emissions commercial trucks around the world. 

In the U.S., Hyundai is collaborating with logistics companies to supply fuel cell heavy-duty trucks. The North American market will get a 6x4 tractor fuel cell truck model, which is the most common form of drivetrain setup of semi-tractors and heavy duty long-haul trucks for freight delivery.

Hyundai expects more than 12,000 fuel cell trucks will be deployed on roads in the U.S. by 2030. 

Hyundai also is working with various parties in China, which aims to get 1 million hydrogen-powered vehicles on its roads by 2030. The company is currently discussing cooperative initiatives such as a joint venture with local partners.

Three fuel cell electric trucks are scheduled for launch in China, including a medium-duty truck in 2022, a heavy-duty truck in several years and another heavy-duty truck specifically designed for the China market. Hyundai's goal is to achieve aggregate sales volume of 27,000 units by 2030 in China with the three fuel cell truck models.

The increase in capacity will be backed by a US$1.3 billion investment from Hyundai, in addition to the company's previously announced US$6.4 billion investment for establishing a hydrogen ecosystem to support creation of a hydrogen society, the company said. 

The hydrogen value chain includes hydrogen production, filling stations, as well as service and maintenance locations. 

To support the growing hydrogen ecosystem in Switzerland, Hyundai plans to open more than 100 hydrogen fueling stations by working with partner companies, which would support both commercial fuel cell trucks and smaller passenger fuel cell electric vehicles. 

In 2019, Hyundai Motor Company formed Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility (HHM), a partnership with Swiss company H2 Energy. HHM also is partnering with hydrogen producer Hydrospider AG. The company produced hydrogen exclusively with renewable energy. 

The customers in Switzerland will be leasing the Xcient Fuel Cell trucks from HHM on a pay-per-use basis that does not require them to pay any upfront costs.

Following a successful deployment in Switzerland, Hyundai plans to expand to broader European markets, including Germany, Norway, the Netherlands and Austria.

As part of its expansion plan in Europe, Hyundai expects to supply 1,600 commercial fuel cell trucks to customers by 2025. They will be utilizing the trucks to haul everything from food to cars around Europe.

Hyundai will offer several configurations of its new fuel cell models to support a significant portion of Europe's major heavy duty truck market, including a 44-ton tractor with a range of up to 620 miles (1,000 km) on a single hydrogen fillup.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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