Even before full electrification with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) has gone mainstream in global markets, some manufacturers are already moving ahead with fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Hyundai Motor was among the first with production FCEV passenger models and is steadily growing its hydrogen fuel cell commercial trucks with the XCIENT Fuel Cell model.
Fuel cell (FC) technology is particularly well-suited to commercial shipping and logistics due to long ranges and short refueling times. The dual-mounted fuel cell system provides enough energy to drive the heavy-duty trucks up and down regions with mountainous terrain.
“XCIENT Fuel Cell is a present-day reality, not as a mere future drawing board project. By putting this groundbreaking vehicle on the road now, Hyundai marks a significant milestone in the history of commercial vehicles and the development of hydrogen society,” said In Cheol Lee, Executive Vice-President and Head of Commercial Vehicle Division at Hyundai Motor. “Building a comprehensive hydrogen ecosystem, where critical transportation needs are met by vehicles like XCIENT Fuel Cell, will lead to a paradigm shift that removes automobile emissions from the environmental equation.”
Joint venture in Switzerland
The XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks, manufactured in Korea, are marketed a joint venture company which has Swiss company H2 Energy as a partner. The joint-venture company, Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility (HHM), offers the XCIENT Fuel Cell in a leasing deal which includes all costs, from import to technical support to the availability of green hydrogen. The big advantage is that there are no initial costs for the end customer.
Hyundai chose Switzerland as the starting point for its business venture for various reasons. One of the reasons is that zero-emission trucks do not have to pay Swiss roadtax charges. This nearly equalizes the hauling costs per kilometre of the FC truck compared to a regular diesel truck.
400 kms of range
The XCIENT Fuel Cell, the hydrogen FC version of its Xcient truck, is equipped with a 180-kW hydrogen FC system incorporating two 90-kW fuel cell stacks. With a 350-kW e-motor, the vehicle is claimed to be able to travel 400 kms on a full tank and requires only 8 to 20 minutes to fill up. Seven large hydrogen tanks offer a combined storage capacity of around 32.09 kgs of hydrogen.
To date, Hyundai has exported XCIENT FC trucks to Switzerland, where it has 23 corporate fleet clients, and more recently, to Germany where 27 units will be used by 7 companies in the logistics and manufacturing sectors.
Second European market
This will be the second time that Hyundai has exported its FC truck to Europe after it clinched a deal with 23 corporate fleet clients in Switzerland. Production is not in high volumes at the moment and by 2025, the company expects to have produced 1,600 FC trucks.
Hyundai Motor is also developing a long-distance tractor unit capable of traveling 1,000 kilometers on a single charge equipped with an enhanced fuel cell system with high durability and power, aimed at global markets including North America and Europe.
In addition to the XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks, Hyundai also produces the NEXO, a second-generation hydrogen-fuelled SUV. By 2025, the company aims to sell 670,000 electric vehicles annually, including 110,000 FCEVs.