60 Seconds with…Hyundai Motor Group

We spend 60 seconds with Euisun Chung, Co-chair of the Hydrogen Council & Executive Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group

What are you looking forward to at the upcoming CEO annual meeting? What can members expect? 

It is an honor to have the opportunity to take part as co-chair in this year’s milestone event in Paris. This CEO meeting marks the third anniversary of the Hydrogen Council’s establishment and I hope it will serve to inspire and support further development of a hydrogen-powered future society. 

In particular, I am excited that we will be welcoming 22 new member company CEOs and celebrating another huge step toward becoming a truly global coalition representing the full hydrogen supply chain across all regions of the world.

Today we have 81 member companies, we have grown our membership by about 40% in the past year, and more than quadrupled in size since our founding by 13 members in 2017. I look forward to the upcoming meetings between new and existing members, where we will have the opportunity to discuss topics such as cooperation on technological developments, ways to scale up hydrogen infrastructure, new hydrogen businesses and applications, as well as strategies to accelerate economies of scale. 

But above all, this year’s event will be highlighted by the presentation of a first-of-its-kind hydrogen cost reduction study that provides a realistic roadmap to cost competitiveness of hydrogen technologies. The roadmap will also outline the steps required for such cost competitiveness to occur. This extensive study is based on more than 25,000 datasets collected from 30 members across the hydrogen industry. We expect the results of this study to become a reliable reference for companies and governments when planning for various hydrogen-related projects.  

How is the Hydrogen Council helping to drive the hydrogen economy? What would you like to see happen next? 

Ever since its establishment, the Hydrogen Council has been at the forefront of convincing industry leaders and governments that building a hydrogen-powered society is an achievable goal in the not-too-distant future.

The Council has closely exchanged views with leaders of various industries and sectors in order to foster investments in the technological development and commercialization of hydrogen. Over the past year, the Hydrogen Council has strengthened its relationships with stakeholders and expanded its international influence by collaborating with key actors such as Hydrogen Energy Ministerial, IEA, WEF, G20 Ministerial, Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), Mission Innovation, IPHE, and IRENA. 

Also, considering the high level of interest of governments in response to climate problems, we will further collaborate with regional and national hydrogen associations to jointly analyze the current status of government policies, regulations and technologies, to provide viable technological solutions and policy suggestions.

What is Hyundai doing specifically to scale up hydrogen in the lead up to 2050, as a milestone year?

Decarbonizing the transportation sector through hydrogen is a crucial step in building a pathway toward the Council’s vision for 2050. As an innovator and pioneer in hydrogen-powered mobility, Hyundai Motor Group is willingly taking the responsibility and putting much effort into developing and supplying affordable fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) to the general public.

Rather than focusing on short-term sales goals, Hyundai Motor is committed to continuously strengthening its technological leadership by reducing cost, miniaturizing fuel cell systems and maximizing efficiency, all of which in turn will lower barriers to FCEV adoption. Under the “Hydrogen Vision 2030”, Hyundai Motor Group will boost annual fuel-cell systems production capacity to 700,000 units by 2030 and explore new business opportunities to supply the Group’s world-class fuel-cell systems to other transportation manufacturers of automobiles, drones, vessels, rolling stocks and forklifts. The Group will also secure a 500,000-units-per–year FCEV production capacity by 2030, including both passenger and commercial vehicles, in anticipation of demand for global FCEVs expanding to around 2 million units per year within that timeframe.

We believe our responsibilities extend beyond vehicles and include investments in the hydrogen supply chain. Hyundai is currently exploring various ways to contribute to enhancing this infrastructure. Last year, Hyundai Motor built the world’s first hydrogen filling station on a legislative premise (National Assembly) in Seoul. The charging station is open for use to the public and taxi drivers.

Are there any inspiring or exciting hydrogen-related projects going on outside of your company, or with your partners, that you would like to tell us about? 

Hyundai Motor Group has always strived to increase participation of various industries in the transition to a hydrogen economy. Over the past year, we’ve forged several significant partnerships to accelerate our fuel cell capabilities and expand business opportunities in the global fuel cell system sector. Most recently, we entered a partnership with a leading commercial vehicle powertrain company in the U.S. and we are currently seeking to expand our supply of fuel cell systems to non-automotive industries such as rolling stock, ships and power generation.

As a leader in the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology and the world’s first automaker to commercialize fuel-cell electric vehicles, Hyundai Motor Group has constantly made efforts to reduce production cost of FCEVs and enhance the safety and affordability of hydrogen infrastructure.  Last year, the company made key investments into three innovative hydrogen companies – Impact Coatings, H2Pro and GRZ Technologies – to enhance accessibility of hydrogen infrastructure and efficiency of our FCEV manufacturing, while also contributing to the reduction in price of hydrogen for customers.

Suggest one way we can accelerate the advent of a “Hydrogen Society”.

A full transformation into a “hydrogen society” will not happen overnight. I believe building hydrogen-powered territories, which many countries are already taking part in, could be a viable stepping stone toward becoming a hydrogen society and doing so will help demonstrate the benefits of hydrogen to the public. As part of this development, we need to have discussions with international governments to jointly establish hydrogen-powered territories. These will become exemplar regions that serve as a testbed to highlight the benefits of a hydrogen society to other communities around the world. With the construction of such territories where major urban functions — electricity, transportation, heating and cooling — are powered by hydrogen, the safety and economic feasibility of the energy transition through hydrogen will be easily verified.

Hydrogen-powered territories do not have to be large and may come in many different forms (hydrogen cities, hydrogen valleys, etc.) but would need to effectively convey the message that a hydrogen eco-system – production, distribution and application – is the fastest way to achieve a truly zero-emission world. We should also go further to convince the public that such an initiative is geared to work for the widest possible variety of sectors, and in the interests of everyone. 

Are there any recent or upcoming hydrogen related milestones in your company that you are especially proud of? 

In 2019, Hyundai Motor saw production and sales of the NEXO fuel cell SUV increase ten-fold compared with the previous year. This confirmed that we are on track to achieve several milestones, including 40,000 units by 2022, 130,000 units by 2025, and 500,000 units by 2030.

Recently, Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility – a joint venture (JV) between Hyundai and H2 Energy – was honored with the second-ever International Truck of the Year (IToY) Innovation Award for its initiative to expand Europe’s hydrogen mobility ecosystem by implementing the use of fuel cell trucks.

In November, French aeronaut and president of the Solar Impulse Foundation Bertrand Piccard broke the world record for the longest distance traveled in a hydrogen-powered vehicle on a single fueling by driving a Hyundai NEXO for 778 km.

We have continued to develop proprietary technologies for separation plates, electrolytes, catalysts, gas diffusion layers, etc., all of which are key components of the fuel cell system. Hyundai Motor Group also made significant progress in improving performance and efficiency, reducing cost, and developing mass production processes of fuel cell systems.

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