Innovation

Hyundai Wants Competitors To Use Its Hydrogen Fuel Tech

Hyundai Motor wants its rivals to help boost its hydrogen fuel-cell system technology.

The automaker is looking for its competitors to buy the system to promote global adoption of the technology. Hyundai — the world’s fifth-largest carmaker by sales — plans to spend $6.7 billion over the next decade to develop the technology, which converts stored hydrogen into electricity to power the vehicles’ motors. The company is hoping that the technology will become more popular than electric vehicles.

“If we do not actively work in the global market, we will be dependent on our own companies’ car sales. Today, maybe it is competitive, but in the future, we cannot grow,” said Sae Hoon Kim, head of Hyundai’s fuel-cell division, according to the Financial Times.

He added that the lack of infrastructure in the market has made the need for collaboration critical. With that in mind, Hyundai is selling its whole fuel-cell system, instead of simply licensing the technology.

“Licensing will be difficult, as there are too many subcomponents within the stack and the system, which should be controlled precisely during the production process,” Kim said.

Still, some believe Hyundai has a long road ahead.

“The strategy seems right, but the key is how much interest global carmakers will show in the hydrogen technology, and whether the related infrastructure will be built up in time,” said Lee Hang-Koo, a researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade.

Kim Pil-Soo, a Daelim University professor of auto engineering, said that while Hyundai, Toyota and Honda are the early leaders in hydrogen, it “will take a long time for them to make money.”

There is also the matter of high costs and weak early sales for the first commercial hydrogen models. Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, has reportedly called the technology “fool cells.”

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