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Hyundai Motor chief reaffirms will for hydrogen transition

Korean auto giant retains top spot in hydrogen car sales, dominating more than half the global market

Feb. 9, 2023 - 15:45 By Kan Hyeong-woo
Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun (Hyundai Motor Group)

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun has pledged to embark on a full-scale journey to transition into a hydrogen society this year, reaffirming the automaker’s will to continue developing and expanding its hydrogen vehicle business.

“To establish a sustainable supply chain, we will take the lead in preparing for the application of green steel and eco-friendly parts, and gradually convert utilities and raw materials used at our business sites around the world to renewable energy, waste resources and ultimately hydrogen,” Chung said Wednesday in an interview with the Hydrogen Council, a global CEO-led initiative launched in 2017. Hyundai was one of the 13 founding members of the Hydrogen Council, which now has 145 member companies based in 20 countries.

“In the mid- to long-term, we will make continuous efforts to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the automotive value chain by securing a large amount of hydrogen and converting the product logistics system outside business sites to hydrogen,” he added.

The executive chair said the automaker will keep putting efforts into advancing hydrogen vehicle technology and production, underscoring that the South Korean company is one of the few automakers in the world that have the capabilities to produce both hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles equipped with batteries.

“(Hyundai) is continuing development to expand the supply of hydrogen-powered vehicles -- the first step in the transition to a hydrogen society,” he said.

Hyundai Motor Group has exported dozens of Xcient Fuel Cells, which made a debut as the world’s first mass-produced hydrogen electric heavy-duty truck in 2020, to Switzerland and Germany. The automaker plans to release a hydrogen electric tractor targeting the North American region in the first half of this year.

According to market tracker H2 Research, Hyundai Motor Group sold 11,947 units of hydrogen vehicles last year, accounting for 52 percent of the total global sales. The automaker held the top seller spot for the fourth consecutive year.

Chung also stressed the importance of cooperation and support between governments and industries in order to accelerate the transition to a hydrogen society, noting that Hyundai Motor will work with like-minded partners in various ways to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality. The automaker has set out the goal of securing 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

“The last five years have been a period for publicizing the possibility of hydrogen and preparing policy and institutional systems. Now is the time to act,” he said. “Now, when we are facing slowing economic growth, growing geopolitical complications and intensifying protectionism, I believe it is most urgent to suggest a direction for global hydrogen cooperation so that we do not lose any momentum toward establishing a hydrogen society."

Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor Group on Thursday announced that it participated in the 2023 Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Seminar, the biggest hydrogen event in the US, held from Tuesday to Thursday in California.

The automaker said it discussed ways to strengthen partnerships and cooperation with hydrogen-related stakeholders such as the US Department of Energy and Department of the Treasury, as well as local companies.