Automotive Blog

Hyundai Group reveals new fuel-cell SUV, to expand alternative-powertrain vehicle line-up




Hyundai has revealed a new alternative-powertrain vehicle development roadmap, aimed at expanding the line-up of such vehicles.

IHS Markit perspective

  • Significance: Hyundai-Kia has launched a new roadmap revealing growth plans for the alternative-powertrain vehicle segments. The two automakers plan to launch 31 such vehicles in global markets by 2020.
  • Implications: Hyundai aims to become the second largest alternative-powertrain automaker by 2020. The new development roadmap represents the next step towards creating a cleaner environment through alternative-powertrain vehicles.
  • Outlook: IHS Markit forecasts that global production of Hyundai's plug-in vehicles, which include EVs and PHEVs, will grow to over 126,900 units by 2020. We also forecast that the Group's annual output of FCEVs will peak to 2,074 units in 2019.

Hyundai and its affiliate Kia plan to launch 31 alternative-powertrain vehicles in global markets by 2020, according to a company statement. This include 10 hybrid vehicles, 11 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), eight electric vehicles (EVs) and two fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Last year, the duo announced that they plan to launch 28 alternative-powertrain vehicles by 2020. This new development roadmap represents the next step for Hyundai Motor Group towards creating a cleaner environment through alternative-powertrain vehicles.

Hyundai plans to launch an all-electric version of its new Kona compact crossover in 2018, with a driving range of 390 km on a full charge. It also plans to introduce a 321-km-range version of the pure-electric IONIQ sedan by 2018 and also plans to increase production of the vehicle at its Ulsan plant in South Korea by 50% to 1,800 units per month. The automaker also confirmed that it is developing its first dedicated EV platform, which will allow the company to produce multiple models with longer driving ranges. Kia also plans to expand its EV line-up by launching the Niro electric SUV in the country next year.

Hyundai also plans to introduce an all-electric Genesis sedan in 2021 and plans to launch an EV with a range of 500 km per charge after 2021. The automaker will also strengthen its global leadership in hydrogen fuel-cell technology by enhancing research and development (R&D) efforts to boost FCEV performance and durability, while also making the technology smaller and cheaper so that it can be applied to smaller sedans. As part of these efforts, Hyundai will unveil a new hydrogen-powered bus in the fourth quarter of this year and launch the new fuel-cell sport utility vehicle (SUV) early next year.

Hyundai reveals next-generation FCEV

Hyundai has unveiled a near-production version of its next-generation FCEV in Seoul. The yet to be named FCEV, an SUV, uses the automaker's fourth-generation hydrogen fuel-cell technology, resulting in a substantial improvement in both efficiency and performance.

According to Hyundai, the new fuel-cell SUV delivers an efficiency level of 60% compared with 55.3% in the current-generation ix35 FCEV, also sold as the Tucson fuel-cell in some markets. With improved fuel-cell system efficiency, the South Korean automaker is targeting a driving range of 580 km on a single charge, based on Korean testing standards.

The new-generation fuel-cell SUV will deliver 120 kW of power, an improvement of 20% compared with its predecessor. According to Hyundai, the new fuel-cell SUV offers better cold-start capability, greater longevity and hydrogen storage density. The vehicle will also feature advanced driver assistance (ADAS) technologies.

Hyundai will showcase the new-generation fuel-cell SUV at the 2018 CES, along with revealing its official name. The vehicle is expected go on sale in South Korea early next year, followed by the United States and Europe. The automaker is also considering launching the vehicle in markets with high growth potential for alternative-powertrain vehicles such as China.

Outlook and implications

Hyundai Motor Group aims to become the second largest alternative-powertrain automaker by 2020. Both Hyundai and Kia have previously announced investments for the alternative-powertrain vehicle segments during the medium and long-term.

Global sales of Hyundai-Kia's alternative-powertrain vehicles totalled 141,681 units during the first seven months of 2017 (January–July), up from 56,608 units in the same period last year. The duo's sales of hybrid vehicles stood at 119,780 in the YTD, EV sales totalled 13,220 units, and PHEV and FCEV sales reached 8,485 and 196 units, respectively. Hyundai and Kia have already exceeded their 2016 full-year total of 128,975 alternative-powertrain vehicles in the first seven months. Hyundai-Kia expects that sales of such vehicles will exceed 200,000 units by the end of 2017.

Meanwhile, Hyundai's plan to launch a long-range EV is aimed at competing with other models that boast pure-electric ranges of more than 200 miles. For instance, Chevrolet's Bolt EV has a driving range of 383 km, while Tesla's Model S 90D can travel up to 378 km on a single charge. The Hyundai IONIQ's current range in pure-electric mode is around 200 km, while Kia's Soul EV has a driving range of 180 km.

Although Hyundai has made significant progress in fuel-cell technology, demand for fuel-cell vehicles remains low due to its exorbitant price and limited availability of hydrogen refilling infrastructure. The automaker is developing its fuel-cell technology to help reduce the overall cost of the vehicle. It has developed its own membrane electrolyte assembly (MEA) and metallic separator, both critical components of hydrogen fuel cells. Hyundai also plans to establish production lines for MEA and metallic separator at its plant in Chungju (South Korea) in August. In a bid to promote FCEVs, the automaker has signed several agreements with taxi operators and car-sharing service providers in Germany and South Korea. These partnerships are valuable for Hyundai as they offer the automaker an opportunity to enhance the visibility of its FCEVs. Hyundai has also joined a global initiative, the "Hydrogen Council", to promote the development and commercialisation of FCEVs. Hyundai also plans to launch a fuel-cell sedan in future, while Kia plans to launch an FCEV by the end of 2021 to further expand hydrogen-powered vehicles line-up. However, it is going to take several years before the South Korean automakers achieve economies of scale in fuel-cell technology.

According to IHS Markit's light-vehicle powertrain forecast, global production of Hyundai group's plug-in vehicles, which include EVs and PHEVs, will grow to over 126,900 units by 2020, up from around 14,320 in 2016. We also forecast that the Group's annual output of FCEVs, which are new technology, will peak to 2,074 units in 2019, up from 233 units in 2016.

About this article

The above article is from AutoIntelligence Daily by IHS Markit. AutoIntelligence Daily provides same-day analysis of automotive news, events and trends.​​​​​​ Get a free trial.

About The Author

Jamal Amir joined IHS Markit in August 2015 as research analyst for the World Market Automotive Practice, covering the Middle East, Africa, South Korea, Australia, and the ASEAN region. He has around four years of experience in the field of research and analytics. Prior to joining the company he worked as research associate studying and writing about investment opportunities in various sectors of India. He holds a PGDM in Marketing and Human Resource from Jaipuria Institute of Management and a BE in Computer Science from MVJ College of Engineering.