LUCERNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – South Korean carmaker Hyundai on Wednesday presented the first seven hydrogen-powered trucks to customers in Switzerland, out of 50 such vehicles scheduled this year to bring zero-emission commercial vehicles to European roads.
For long haul, proponents say hydrogen-powered trucks have an advantage over electric rivals as they have a greater range and require less charging times but their uptake and mass production has been slow because they are expensive.
However, a McKinsey study in January said that once relative efficiencies of the power sources and lifetime costs of a truck are factored in, green hydrogen could reach cost parity with diesel by 2030.
Hyundai has been partnering with Swiss companies to build a value chain covering the production of green hydrogen from hydropower, hydrogen charging stations and the service and maintenance of the trucks.
The customers, which include supermarket chain Migros, will be leasing the trucks from Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility (HHM) to transport goods around the country, backed by the new hydrogen infrastructure.
Leases are on a pay-per-use basis that does not require an initial investment. Hyundai plans to put 1,600 trucks on Swiss roads by 2025.
Its H2 Xcient trucks have a 190 kilowatt fuel cell stack and seven high-pressure tanks holding 32 kgs of hydrogen, giving them a range far further than comparable vehicles powered by electric batteries on the market now.
HHM was set up by Hyundai and Swiss startup H2 energy last year to partner with Hydrospider, a joint venture of H2 Energy, industrial gas maker Linde and Swiss power utility Alpiq.
Hyundai plans for production capacity of 2,000 units of Xcient fuel cells per year by 2021 to support its expansion plans as demand for clean transport grows.
It views Switzerland as a test case for hydrogen fuel cells in heavy goods transport, said In Cheol Lee, executive vice president and head of the commercial vehicle division at Hyundai Motor Company.
“With successful delivery of the first H2 Xcient fuel cell trucks, we proudly announce our plan to expand beyond Europe to North America and China, where we are already making great progress,” he said.
As for Europe, Hyundai has said it will next target Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway.
(Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)