This week has seen the first fuel cell trucks shipped from South Korea to Switzerland by Hyundai. This is the first 10 units of the Hyundai Xcient Fuel Cell, which Hyundai claim is the world’s first mass-produced fuel cell heavy-duty truck.
The company plans to ship a total of 50 Xcient Fuel Cells to Switzerland this year, with handover to commercial fleet customers starting in September. Hyundai says it plans to roll out a total of 1,600 Xcient Fuel Cell trucks by 2025, which it says reflects the company’s environmental commitment and technological prowess as it works toward reducing carbon emissions through zero-emission solutions.
“Xcient Fuel Cell is a present-day reality, not as a mere future drawing board project,” said In Cheol Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of Commercial Vehicle Division at Hyundai Motor. “By putting this groundbreaking vehicle on the road now, Hyundai marks a significant milestone in the history of commercial vehicles and the development of hydrogen society“Building a comprehensive hydrogen ecosystem, where critical transportation needs are met by vehicles like Xcient Fuel Cell, will lead to a paradigm shift that removes automobile emissions from the environmental equation.
Xcient is powered by a 190kW hydrogen fuel cell system with dual 95kW fuel cell stacks. Seven large hydrogen tanks offer a combined storage capacity of around 32.09 kg of hydrogen. The driving range per charge for Xcient Fuel Cell is about 400km. This range is for the 4×2 truck with refrigerated configuration while operating 34 tonne semi.
Hyundai says it is developing a long-distance tractor unit capable of traveling 1,000km on a single charge equipped with an enhanced fuel cell system with high durability and power, aimed at global markets including North America and Europe.
Th first fuel cell trucks shipped to Switzerland are bound for Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility (HHM), a joint venture with Swiss company H2 Energy, which will lease the trucks to commercial truck operators on a pay-per-use basis, meaning there is no initial investment for the commercial fleet customers.
Hyundai chose Switzerland as the starting point for its business venture for various reasons. One of the reasons is the Swiss LSVA road tax on commercial vehicles, which does not apply for zero-emission trucks. That nearly equalises the hauling costs per km of the fuel cell truck compared to a regular diesel truck.
Hyundai’s business case involves using purely clean hydrogen generated from hydropower. To truly reduce carbon emissions, all of the trucks need to run on only green hydrogen. Switzerland is the country with one of the highest shares of hydropower globally, and can therefore deliver sufficient green energy for the production of hydrogen. Once the project is underway in Switzerland, Hyundai plans to expand it to other European countries as well.