Hyundai Motors took a small but important step recently that moves towards Korea’s goal of clean energy by opening the nation’s first hydrogen refueling station for commercial vehicles in the heart of Seoul. It was part of the government’s energy priority to sharply increase both vehicles and electricity generation powered by hydrogen, a clean alternative to oil-based energy use.

It’s also part of a larger plan to take the technology lead in designing and building fuel-cell cars and large-scale stationary fuel cells for power generation.

“Hyundai Motor will make more efforts to play the leading role in the hydrogen-based commercial vehicle market by developing and producing hydrogen buses and trucks, as well as hydrogen passenger cars,” Hyundai said in a statement. “We will continue to make efforts to supply hydrogen-electric vehicles and expand infrastructure so that South Korea can develop into a true hydrogen society.”

That’s an ambitious plan that has strong support from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, which has committed to broad subsidies and incentives for companies to move away from carbon fuels and towards cleaner hydrogen. Some of the programs that the Ministry is putting in place include:

  • Increasing the number of hydrogen charging stations nationwide to 310 by 2022 from the current 37;
  • Easing regulations on hydrogen fueling stations; and
  • Delivering more hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses and taxis.

 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked the world’s awareness over health and safety. Demand for environment-friendly hydrogen fuel cell cars will grow down the road,” Energy Minister Sung Yoon-mo told Hyundai executives and other members of the Korea Automotive Technology Institute at a recent meeting.

As part of Korean efforts to move towards hydrogen power, the Government in May announced an ambitious plan to construct the world’s largest liquid hydrogen plants, with a goal of having the $240-billion facility open by the end of 2022.

While Hyundai currently exports hydrogen-powered trucks to Switzerland, it will launch a domestic version of the vehicle into Korea by the end of next year. It is expanding its production capacity for hydrogen-powered vehicles from 1,000 at end of 2019 to more than 11,000 by the end of 2020.

“We aim to produce 40,000 hydrogen-powered passenger and commercial vehicles in 2022, and increase the capacity to 130,000 units by 2025 and to 500,000 units in 2030,” a Hyundai spokesman said at the recent meeting.