Hyundai has suspended development of their Genesis hydrogen fuel cell vehicle indefinitely, according to Chosun Ilbo. The news comes hot on the heels of Hyundai announcing an end to internal combustion engine development.
While Chosun‘s article (as translated by Google) does not seem to state that Hyundai has permanently canceled their fuel cell Genesis, the project is at the very least on pause for the time being. Hyundai has, in the past, stated that they view battery electric vehicles as a stopgap “until fuel cell vehicles take hold,” but that was in 2016.
In September of this year, Hyundai revealed a hydrogen strategy aiming for significant penetration of both commercial and passenger markets by 2040. On the way to that target, Hyundai planned to offer a new third-generation fuel cell (the current Hyundai Nexo FCEV is their second-generation product) in 2023, and fuel cell systems in all commercial vehicles by 2028 with price points competitive to BEV offerings by 2030.
Genesis also announced they will stop introducing new internal combustion models in 2025.
But since then, an internal audit showed that Hyundai has fallen short of virtually every target they had for fuel cell vehicles. Production and sales are lower than expected, cost is falling slower than expected, infrastructure is being built slower than expected, and hydrogen fuel prices are higher than expected.
Hyundai was about a year into a projected four-year development period for the Genesis hydrogen car. But these problems with their third-generation fuel cell have resulted in an indefinite pause on the project.
So far, Hyundai has not announced whether other hydrogen projects will be put on hold. It seems likely that commercial projects will continue, while passenger projects might end up going the way of the hydrogen Genesis, at least for the time being.
It’s always been our view that hydrogen won’t find a place in consumer electric vehicles. Battery cars are not only better at the time being, but BEVs are also getting better more quickly than hydrogen cars are. There are many more technological and infrastructure difficulties with hydrogen than with battery cars, and fuel cells offer few benefits over BEVs even in the best theoretical scenarios.
It’s possible that fuel cells might find a home in heavy transport applications in the medium-long term, depending on how things go with energy density development for batteries. For heavy commercial vehicles like long haul trucks, planes, ships, and so on, hydrogen does have high energy density, can be produced cleanly (though it isn’t right now), and offers many benefits when compared to burning fossil fuels.
But we think Hyundai’s decision to pause their hydrogen passenger development is probably the right one, and we expect that if they keep an eye on the same metrics, they’ll just put an axe in the whole project as it becomes more apparent BEV is the way to go.
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