Hyundai Motor debuts commercialized model of its class 8 fuel cell electric tractor and shares its vision for a hydrogen mobility value chain in the US

Published: Tuesday, July 18, 2023

The company introduces its advanced fuel cell technologies and strategy for fostering a hydrogen ecosystem and achieving carbon neutrality. Hyundai and the US and Korean governments discussed the expansion of US fuel-cell commercial vehicle demonstration projects and development of hydrogen technologies.

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA—Hyundai Motor Company premiered in May its new XCIENT Fuel Cell tractor, the commercialized class 8 6×4 fuel cell electric model, for the North American commercial vehicle (CV) market at the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo.

The company also showcased the XCIENT Fuel Cell tractor and the hydrogen fuel cell system at North America’s largest advanced transportation technology and clean fleet event at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California through May 4.

At Hyundai Motor’s press conference, Ken Ramirez, Executive Vice President and Head of Global Commercial Vehicle and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Business at Hyundai Motor, emphasized the importance of achieving carbon neutrality to realize the company’s vision of ‘Progress for Humanity.’ He spoke of the company’s strong commitment to hydrogen mobility and shared its ambition to foster the development of a clean hydrogen ecosystem.

“We firmly believe that hydrogen is one of the most powerful and pragmatic solutions for achieving our vision of ‘Progress for Humanity’ with emission-free mobility as a fundamental pillar for a sustainable society,” said Ramirez.

“Our hydrogen fuel cell technology has pioneered the industry, with a real-world proven track record of its efficiency and durability. We are leveraging these merits to further transform transportation with hydrogen energy for a broad range of mobility applications, including commercial vehicles, marine vessels and even air mobility. We now look beyond mobility toward an integrated hydrogen ecosystem, from production of hydrogen to its storage, transport and delivery. Hyundai is uniquely positioned to cover all aspects and deliver a seamless solution across the value chain,” he added.

Building a hydrogen value-chain
Mark Freymueller, Senior Vice President and Head of Commercial Vehicle Business Innovation at Hyundai Motor, revealed the company’s plan for XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks, underlining the company’s local partnerships to form a solid hydrogen value chain as building blocks toward accelerating the deployment of clean fleets in the U.S.

“For years, we have been initiating hydrogen value chains in various regions. Together with our partners, we are making hydrogen mobility a viable solution for our customers. We go beyond the truck itself to include areas such as hydrogen refueling and truck maintenance,” said Freymueller. “Here in the U.S., we plan to do the same, since each case needs its tailor-made service approach, especially during the transition phase from traditional to hydrogen. We plan to provide the best hydrogen value chain scenario for each and every customer.”

The company aims to foster partnerships and future businesses to provide fleet operation solutions for hydrogen truck customers and expand the hydrogen value chain in the U.S., using its initial business entry as a bridgehead.

To that end, Hyundai Motor shared its outlook for an eco-friendly CV business incubation project at the Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America (HMGMA), the dedicated electric vehicle factory being built in Georgia.

The project is centered on the development of a hydrogen mobility value chain. HMGMA will be equipped with cutting-edge technologies that can produce up to 300,000 EVs annually and an innovative production platform, developed and demonstrated by the Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center in Singapore (HMGICS). Through the project, the Metaplant will incorporate an eco-friendly logistics system integrating hydrogen fuel cell trucks and a complete hydrogen value chain.

XCIENT Fuel Cell’s proven record for reliability and capability
Martin Zeilinger, Executive Vice President and Head of Hyundai Motor’s Commercial Vehicle Development, introduced the commercialized model of the XCIENT Fuel Cell tractor, highlighting its technology and proven record for capability and reliability.

First launched in 2020, XCIENT Fuel Cell has been deployed in five countries, including Switzerland, Germany, Israel, Korea and New Zealand, and has successfully accumulated over 4 million miles so far.

It is the only heavy-duty fuel cell electric model with a proven record of real-world application and technological reliability. The model shown at the event is the 6×4 tractor equipped with two 90 kW hydrogen fuel cell systems (total 180 kW power) and a 350 kW e-motor. Its gross combination weight is a maximum 82,000 lbs and offers a driving range of over 450 miles per charge even when fully loaded.

XCIENT Fuel Cell implements the world-leading hydrogen fuel cell system offered by HTWO, Hyundai Motor Group’s hydrogen energy dedicated business brand. HTWO’s business includes application of Hyundai’s proprietary fuel cell systems for various forms of mobility, such as advanced air mobility, automobiles, vessels and trains, as well as for stationary power generation.

Zeilinger also participated in the industry panel discussion, ‘Staying Ahead of the Curve: Emerging Vehicle Availability,’ which covered fleet procurement, fuel cell storage systems, leading technologies for next-generation fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) and timing of commercialization. He highlighted how Hyundai Motor is a pioneer in fuel cell technologies with field-proven products and services deployed worldwide.

“Hyundai has been focusing on hydrogen for over 20 years,” Zeilinger said. “Our advanced fuel cell technology already is in use through various applications and especially in the commercial vehicle sector, showing its powerful performance and reliability.”

Hydrogen’s potential in the commercial vehicle sector and beyond
Hyundai Motor views hydrogen as the clean energy solution for CVs, including energy-intensive heavy-duty trucking, due to their various advantages in production, transportation, distribution and storage. Hydrogen is an energy carrier with high density that allows FCEVs to provide sustained energy output suitable for long-haul driving and carrying heavy loads. FCEVs enhance work and infrastructure efficiency compared to battery electric vehicles (BEV) by minimizing downtime with quicker refueling.

With the U.S. government’s significant support and more players entering the hydrogen market, Hyundai Motor is confident that the total cost of ownership for FCEVs will drop considerably, and that climate change and supply chain issues will accelerate the transition to clean energy sources.

Hyundai Motor Group also plans to foster the development of a clean hydrogen ecosystem through a ‘Waste-to-Energy,’ in which the hydrogen production system uses the biogas extracted from organic waste such as food waste, livestock manure, and sewage sludge. The clean hydrogen is applied in various industries, including transportation, construction and power generation.

The Group is currently demonstrating the concept business model with a local Korean government and reviewing the expansion of the demonstration to cities outside Korea as well. The Group is also reviewing a hydrogen energy business model to integrate the whole value chain from clean hydrogen production through the ‘Waste-to-Energy’ to carbon capture, utilization, storage (CCUS), transportation, supply and applications.

How Hyundai Motor’s hydrogen electric trucks are already making an impact
In 2020, Hyundai Motor established the world’s first mass-production system for hydrogen electric trucks and it exported 47 XCIENT Fuel Cell heavy-duty trucks to 23 clients in Switzerland from 2020 to June 2022.

The trucks supplied to Switzerland have collectively driven more than 5.7 million kilometers as of January 2023, proving the product’s reliability and eco-friendliness.

Hyundai Motor also signed an agreement to supply 27 XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks to seven German companies in connection with the German Federal Ministry for Digital Transport (BMDV)’s funding program for eco-friendly commercial vehicles in August 2022.

Hyundai Motor plans to enter the North American commercial vehicle market with the XCIENT Fuel Cell truck launch in the first half of this year and continue to expand into global markets with its hydrogen fuel cell commercial vehicles.

According to the ‘Road Map to a U.S. Hydrogen Economy’ report released by global consulting firm McKinsey in April 2021, hydrogen is expected to account for up to 14 percent of energy demand in the U.S. by 2050 and reduce carbon emissions by 16 percent in the country.

In June 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy launched the ‘Hydrogen Energy Earthshot’ project, which aims to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen production to USD 1 per kilogram within the next 10 years and is supporting various measures, such as expanding the research and development budget related to hydrogen production and supporting demonstration projects.

The U.S. government is promoting a range of incentives across the hydrogen business, including new tax credits for hydrogen infrastructure, production and vehicles. Starting this year, the new bipartisan ‘Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’ will provide more than US$ 9 billion in funding to develop hydrogen hubs across the country. Story & Images from: