The next-generation Sonata is expected to be available as a fuel cell EV with the onboard battery that's also plug-in! This hybrid BEV functionality will make FCEVs such as the new Hyundai Nexo and the Staria minivan practical and more efficient alternatives to traditional EVs.
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In our previous issue, we have discussed the onslaught of Korean electric cars that are about to invade the automotive scene in the next few years, as the Hyundai Motor Group is about to embark on its journey to become an exclusive EV manufacturer starting in 2025, in its path to be completely carbon neutral by the year 2045.
And if you have been paying attention to the message that Hyundai has been sending out, you would understand that in conjunction with the battery electric vehicles, another important part of its future lies with the hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.
In addition to the myriad of battery electric cars, Hyundai is investing heavily to bring out highly competitive next-generation fuel cell electric vehicles that are to be even more efficient, and economical than the battery EVs. In this issue, we will explore what Hyundai has in store for the new hydrogen-electric models and the technology that will make hydrogen fuel-cell EVs actually desirable at last.
Hyundai has recently invested $1.1-billion in building its brand-new mega fuel cell manufacturing facilities in Incheon and Ulsan Korea, to produce 100,000 fuel cell stacks annually of the next-generation system to support its massive hydrogen fuel cell plan
In our past episode pertaining to the massive restructuring and reorganization that took place at the Seoul-based company, we saw the departure of a couple of legendary figures in automotive history, namely Albert Biermann and Peter Schreyer, that were instrumental in turning Hyundai into the world’s 3rd largest, and reputable automaker, from its past as manufacture of cheap cars with questionable quality and performance. We also recently saw the changes that Hyundai was putting itself through, to become a progressive mobility provider in time for the upcoming electric era. This included putting end to its internal combustion engine development program and diverting its R&D capacity towards the development of electric vehicles and the related technology. Hyundai has reorganized its key research and development resources into the development of the new battery technology and power-electric systems, to introduce a diverse array of efficient battery EVs that will drive longer and charge faster.
Hyundai has undergone significant changes to prepare for the EV future. (For more info: https://youtu.be/YDn_zivRols)
Another critical change that it will make is in relation to the hydrogen fuel cell technology program.
To make fuel cell stacks more efficient and compact, Hyundai has not only added more R&D resources into the hydrogen program, but it has created a separate hydrogen business division to bring down the cost of manufacturing through securing more production volumes. Although Hyundai’s highly advanced Nexo FCEV is a dominant leader in the segment, having accounted for more than 50% of all fuel cell EVs sold in the world with nearly 9000 units in 2021, the sales volume is not nearly enough to reach the economy of scale needed to make the hydrogen vehicle business viable in its current infant stage. That’s why Hyundai is aggressively expanding the usage of the fuel cells to other applications beyond passenger vehicles.
The aforementioned new hydrogen business division was created to expand its market base into the commercial sectors, with Hyundai’s hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses and trucks already seeping into the commercial transport industry in Europe, and further plans to penetration into locomotives and marine shipping solutions.
How will Hyundai compete with the likes of Tesla and VW on batteries?. (For more info: https://youtu.be/yHs3LiAzTe8)
So, how is Hyundai planning to support this massive hydrogen plan?
In our other previous issue, we also discussed Hyundai’s long term strategy of not getting involved with manufacturing its own batteries, but rather relying on its partnership with the established supply chain consisting of the compatriot battery giants, SK and LG, as well as Samsung for the cooperation for the next-generation solid-state batteries. This is not the case with fuel cell manufacturing. Aside from the obvious reason as there is no fuel cell manufacturer that can support the aggressive hydrogen fuel cell plan of Hyundai for the world domination, especially in the commercial sectors, Hyundai enjoys complete autonomy with what it wants to accomplish in terms of the hydrogen fuel cell business. Unlike battery manufacturing, which the large Korean companies already dominate in, and are inexplicitly discouraged by the Korean government’s policies, Hyundai can have its own ways when it comes to fuel cell manufacturing.
Hyundai has invested $1.1-billion for new fuel cell stack factories. (For more info: https://youtu.be/HiLNbEOGyGY)
Hyundai has recently invested $1.1-billion in building its brand-new mega fuel cell manufacturing facilities in Incheon and Ulsan Korea, to produce 100,000 fuel cell stacks annually of the next-generation system to support its massive hydrogen fuel cell plan, which is on top of the existing fuel cell factory that was built in 2018, with the annual capacity of 23,000 fuel cell stacks.
However, this investment towards producing its own fuel cells, instead of trying to become its own battery manufacturer might be a wiser move in the end anyway. As it would be far cheaper than spending $9-billion in building the infrastructure needed just to produce all of the batteries on its own, instead of acquiring them from its existing supply chain, according to its plan to build 1.7 million EVs annually by the year 2026. This is because the price of battery that is currently hovering around $130 per kWh, dropping from $140 last year, is eventually expected to plummet to under $100 in a few years, attributed to oversupply, as in addition to existing battery manufacturers making the push to increase their manufacturing capacity, leading EV manufacturers such as Tesla and VW are on course to produce all of the batteries themselves as well.
Hyundai's hydrogen fuel cell program will heavily depend on the success of commercial sectors. (for more info: https://youtu.be/HiLNbEOGyGY)
The new fuel-cell manufacturing plants started construction in January 2022, and are anticipated to be completed in late 2023 to start production in 2024, just in time for the introduction of a lineup of all-new hydrogen fuel cell EVs.
The new hydrogen vehicles such as the all-new second-generation Hyundai Nexo will now be equipped with the brand-new fuel cell stack, which features the next-generation hydrogen fuel cell technology. So-called the 3rd generation hydrogen fuel cell is known to be 30% more compact, producing up to twice as much power, as well as being 2 to 3 times more reliable, compared to the previous generation fuel cell being used in the current Nexo. The 3rd generation fuel cell is also designed to be modular, and can also be used in series, to create enough power for use in trains, ships, and even to supply enough electricity to a whole building. The new stack will also be cheaper to produce, expected to bring down the current price of Nexo’s second-generation fuel stack of $30,000 by 50%, and ultimately lead to the reduction in the price of the fuel cell electric vehicles, to the level of the battery-electric cars.
DN9 is the code name for the 9th generation Hyundai Sonata (For more info: https://youtu.be/HiLNbEOGyGY )
In addition to the next generation Nexo, the all-new fuel cell stack is also expected to go into the next-generation Sonata. Known by the code name DN9, and a replacement for the current Sonata, with the controversial styling that has led to the early planned termination of the underachieving sedan, is to make its introduction in 2024. In conjunction with the new styling, the addition of the hydrogen powerplant would definitely be enough to create a new sensation for the once best-selling family sedan.
The next-generation Hyundai Nexo will be a hybrid FCEV with a plug-in BEV capability (For more info: https://youtu.be/HiLNbEOGyGY)
Enabled by the modified version of Hyundai’s latest 3rd generation platform, with its versatile modular design that can easily be converted from ICE to battery-electric, and even hydrogen-electric, the next-generation Hyundai hydrogen vehicles are expected to also attain hybrid plug-in EV functionality.
As seen in the Hyundai Vision FK concept, which showcased the hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric hybrid technology, the next-generation FCEVs like the new Nexo, and the next Sonata are expected to feature the plug-in capability to charge its onboard battery, as well as maintain the hydrogen refueling capability. As in Vision FK, the new hybrid FCEV will essentially operate as a battery-electric vehicle until the juice is depleted, with the hydrogen fuel cell stack kicking in to provide additional electricity and range. This dual-energy source mode will definitely increase the appeal of the hydrogen vehicles, as it alleviates the range anxiety as an electric car, as well as the anxiety for not being able to find another hydrogen refueling station while on a longer trip, until the hydrogen and charging infrastructure is fully established.
Additionally, like the EGMP-based battery EVs, Hyundai will add the innovative V2L function to the new hydrogen vehicles. However, the electricity that’s extracted will be produced actively, on-demand basis from the fuel stack itself and not from the battery.
The 3rd-generation fuel cell stack will be available in 2 different sizes. (For more info: https://youtu.be/HiLNbEOGyGY)
Finally, there is also a hydrogen version of the futuristic Staria minivan rumored, which would further improve the appeal and the market base for the fuel cell vehicles. Also, we look forward to the 671-hp Vision FK-based Genesis supercar expected after 2025.
Detailed specifications are uncertain at this moment, but Hyundai has already introduced 2 types of the 3rd generation fuel cell stacks rated at 100 kW and 200 kW, with the anticipation that a smaller one going into the passenger vehicles, with the bigger one for commercial applications. The combined range of the Vision FK was 600 km or 373 miles, which is very similar to the current Nexo’s all hydrogen range of 570 km or 355 miles.
With the fuel cell making it possible to convert 60 percent of the hydrogen consumed into usable energy, unlike a conventional gasoline engine, in which only 25 percent of the fuel is converted into driving power, while the rest is wasted in heat loss, hydrogen still remains to be the preferred ecological energy choice of the future, making Hyundai’s lone and resilient effort all that much convincing.
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