Hyundai is a world leader in hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles and is one of the few manufacturers that has actually put an FCV into production (several, in fact). Just a few months ago, the company’s luxury arm, Genesis, announced that it was going to pursue the parent company’s dual electrification plan, split between BEVs and FCVs, and its first fuel cell model was expected to debut in 2025.
However, reports from South Korea indicate that Genesis has actually now put the plan on hold, pointing to technological and marketability limitations. This local newspaper, Chosun, says it has insider information and points to the reason behind this radical decision. It apparently has to do with Hyundai testing its third-generation hydrogen fuel cell technology only to discover it doesn’t deliver the results they were hoping for.
The group’s new FCV tech was unveiled to the public in September and one of its driving ideas was to bring down production costs as much as possible. This was a necessity in order to bring the cost of manufacturing an FCV down enough to make it a viable financial proposition and a real rival for BEVs.
However, the source article doesn’t offer a definitive answer as to what the problem that halted the project was. It does mention that work on the Genesis FCV was started over a year ago, but it suggests that it’s not the only one affected by the unspecified problem - Hyundai as a whole is reportedly diverting resources away from its fuel cell effort, bringing all the plans it announced into question.
All of this comes in spite of the fact that Hyundai reported important improvements for its third-gen fuel cell tech, shrinking the powertrain down by 30 percent and increasing its durability and output severalfold. However, even if reports of these gains are accurate, the all important cost problem doesn’t seem to have been addressed.
We will have to wait and see if Hyundai makes any official announcements. So far, the company has kept mum about all of this, and we imagine it will be a hard announcement to make, considering just how much effort and resources were poured into its this project over the course of more than 20 years.
Hyundai’s first production vehicle of this type was the 2001 Santa Fe FCEV, which was replaced by the Tucson FCEV in 2005, next came the ix35 FCEV in 2012. Its current FCV, the Nexo, which went on sale in 2018, is a unique model, not a repurposed ICE vehicle like the others, a move that clearly hinted at Hyundai’s commitment to hydrogen.