Hyundai Puts Hydrogen Program On Ice, Cites Hurdles And Marketability [Update]

Hydrogen fuel cell technology has always existed as an outlier when compared with the traditional EV technology that has rapidly become more prominent in recent years. Despite this, several automakers still championed the technology. However, hydrogen has just lost a key supporter, with Hyundai revealing that it has frozen all development into its hydrogen-electric powertrains.


Feasibility And Hurdles Dogged Hyundai Program

The news comes from a report that was published by the South Korean publication Chosunbiz who revealed that execs pulled the plug after seeing the results of a feasibility study. Hyundai’s South Korea offices have so far not issued an official comment on the report, and the piece itself claims the pause is only temporary. However, some very serious concerns allegedly emerged including technological problems as well as issues surrounding lack of marketability.

These developments are an abrupt shift from Hyundai’s known moves with the Korean car giant investing a massive amount of resources and capital into hydrogen. We even had the opportunity to experience the Hyundai Nexo hydrogen-powered SUV a few years ago and we came away impressed with Hyundai’s continued dedication to hydrogen. However, the program has also contended with some of the hurdles that come with hydrogen-powered vehicles including an extremely limited fueling network. While 47 fueling stations in California have allowed the state to become a safe haven for hydrogen-powered offerings, the rest of the country either has no hydrogen fueling networks to speak of or has extremely sparse options. In Metro Detroit, the lone hydrogen fueling station is nestled deep inside Hyundai’s own HATCI facility which is located in the Ann Arbor area.


Hydrogen Down But Not Out

While the loss of Hyundai’s support is undoubtedly a key blow for hydrogen as a whole, the technology still has its fair share of supporters. They include BMW and Toyota with the two companies recently inking a partnership to rapidly expand their footprints in the hydrogen market. BMW has plans to build a small batch of hydrogen-powered X5 SUVs in 2022 and Toyota is reportedly developing an engine that can actually burn hydrogen as a fuel source versus relying on a hydrogen fuel cell to supply the electric power needed to provide momentum.


*Update: A Hyundai spokesman reached out to the South Korean publication Maeil Buisness and denied the claims in the previous report. This same spokesman also confirmed that the existing roadmap for electrification at Hyundai and Genesis is still firmly intact.