Trains, cars, trucks, even your home and business.
Hyundai held its Hydrogen Wave global online forum on Monday. It went deep into its support of hydrogen as a society-wide fuel and energy storage solution in its Hydrogen Vision 2040, and showed off a few concepts that could change the transportation industry in a big way.
"Hyundai Motor Group couldn't take a backseat on such an important agenda," said Hyundai chairman Euisun Chung. "We want to use it everywhere, for everything."
We mostly think of Hyundai as a car company, but it has tons of business in the transportation and industrial markets too. And we know that part of the sector is just as dirty as the consumer auto market. Hyundai says it will electrify all of its new commercial vehicles by 2028, continuing the work of its XCIENT Fuel Cell semitruck unveiled in 2020 and currently roaming the streets of Switzerland.
Though there are still some issues with hydrogen, it's expected to account for 18 percent of global energy demand by 2050, with a market size in the trillions, according to the Hydrogen Council. It could also cut six billion tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere. Hyundai says hydrogen fuel cells will be comparable to EVs by 2030, which are expected to catch up to ICE vehicles by 2025.
To take advantage of the fuel, Hyundai created the Trailer Drone concept. The Trailer Drone is like the cargo box on a semitruck, but its walls and floor are filled with hydrogen tanks. It keeps the same load floor as a standard box, but is modular in length.
Those Trailer Drones work together with e-Bogie, which is a two-axle, four-wheel steering, autonomous fuel-cell transporter that rolls underneath the Trailer Drones, picks them up and transports them, using the hydrogen stored in the trailer. The term bogie comes from the wheeled rail cars that transport cargo boxes by train.
With an e-Bogie under each end of the Trailer Drone, it can move sideways and on an angle to maneuver in tight quarters. Video showed a large-sized trailer effortlessly sliding around a roundabout. That same e-Bogie platform can also be used for construction, search and rescue, firefighting and several other industries where maneuverability and capability are key.
The transportation industry is obviously important, but selfishly, we were most interested in the Vision FK hydrogen fuel cell race car concept. Hyundai says the concept would have a maximum output of more than 670 hp and a 0-62 mph time of less than 4 seconds. Hyundai's head of R&D Albert Biermann talked about how motorsports will continue to push street car technology forward with hydrogen as it did with gasoline and electrification.
As for the rest of the conference, Hyundai mentioned it's working on the next generation of the Nexo fuel cell SUV, which has a 30% smaller fuel cell delivering the same amount of power. It's also working on a fuel cell Staria minivan, which sounds cool. And as the technology is racing ahead, prices are dropping. The cost of fuel cells dropped 50% from 2003 to 2006, and have dropped a whopping 98% in 20 years. It also wants to use hydrogen to store excess energy from the grid, to be used when needed most.
Several times Hyundai mentioned that it was exploring all avenues for carbon neutrality, and that its work with hydrogen doesn't mean it's abandoning development of new EVs. And that's good because the Ioniq 5 is in our top five "vehicles we need to drive ASAP" list, and we're excited for where the brand goes next. If this summer's extreme climate becomes normal, we're going to need all the clean energy we can get.