Wed, Dec 12, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Hyundai plans US$6.7bn investment for fuel cells


Hyundai Motor Group and its suppliers plan to spend 7.6 trillion won (US$6.7 billion) through 2030 to raise production of fuel cells more than 200-fold as the South Korean automaker aims to become a key player in new-energy vehicle technology.

The world’s fifth-largest auto group — with Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp under its umbrella — yesterday said it would boost annual production capacity of fuel-cell systems to 700,000 units from 3,000 and create 51,000 jobs over the next 12 years.

The spending proposal reaffirms Hyundai’s faith in the future of a technology that has been derided as “mind-bogglingly stupid” by Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk.

Fuel-cell technology, which has been championed by Toyota Motor Corp as an alternative to the conventional internal combustion engines, involves hydrogen-powered vehicles that emit only water vapor.

Hyundai has South Korea’s backing. The government plans to roll out 4,000 fuel-cell electric vehicles next year, a fivefold increase, with an aim to establish 310 hydrogen stations in South Korea by 2022.

The automaker has been wanting to bring these vehicles to China and is exploring options to utilize hydrogen-powered cars for a mobility service, although specific plans have not yet been announced.

Hyundai aims to produce 500,000 units for fuel-cell powered passenger and commercial vehicles, while 200,000 units would be produced for other industries, such as drones, vessels and rolling stocks.

Hyundai yesterday held a groundbreaking ceremony to build its second fuel-cell system factory in Chungju, South Korea, which would increase output to 40,000 units a year by 2022.

The carmaker, in collaboration with Aurora — a start-up formed by former executives from Google, Tesla and Uber Technologies Inc — is testing its fuel-cell sport utility vehicle NEXO, which has a maximum range of 595km for autonomous driving.

“We are confident that hydrogen power will transcend the transportation sector and become a leading global economic success,” Hyundai executive vice chairman Euisun Chung said in a statement.

The company in September said that it would sell 1,000 fuel-cell electric trucks between next year and 2023 in Switzerland and announced a collaboration with Volkswagen AG’s Audi in June.

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