While several automakers have partnered to share the costly development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group says it will continue to go solo.
The automaker has been contacted by other automakers for potential alliances, according to an article posted today in WardsAuto, but has passed these up. Some of that has to do with the Korean automaker having launched its Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicle in 2013, and working on the second generation edition for 2018.
“We’ve actually got several proposals from other OEMs,” said Byung Ki Ahn, director, Eco-Vehicle Performance Development Group for Hyundai R&D told Wards. “We reviewed them carefully, but eventually came to the conclusion that it’s not going to be of much help.”
Ahn says the second-generation Tucson FCV will have a smaller stack and a smaller hydrogen-fuel tank. The stack is the heart of the fuel cell where hydrogen and oxygen react to produce electricity. The current Tucson FCV has a 95-kW stack and accommodates 12.4 lbs. (5.6 kg) of hydrogen at 10,000 psi (700 bar) in its tank. The Tucson FCV can travel up to 265 miles on a single tank of hydrogen.
Ahn said that new, unnamed technologies will be introduced in the next-gen Tucson FCV. That vehicle’s Korean launch is scheduled to coincide with the Winter Olympics in February 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The company is open to possible fuel cell technology partnership, but it would need to happen further into the future. “If we do co-work with someone else, maybe it will be for not the next, but the…next-next generations beyond 2020,” he said.
Ahn wonders if the current automaker alliances will end up being beneficial.
“(General Motors) and Honda are exchanging patents, which should be good,” Ahn said. “Toyota and BMW – one company has technology and the other money. They can probably make good partners. But is it really going well with the consortium of Nissan, Ford and Daimler?”
Nissan said last fall its fuel cell vehicle may not come to market until 2020 or 2021. A fuel-cell version of Daimler’s Mercedes GLC has been rumored to debut next year, but it’s unclear if the technology it carries is a result of the partnership with Nissan and Ford.
Like the other automakers in fuel cell partnership, Hyundai is also concerned about the thin refueling infrastructure, both in the U.S. and South Korea. A Hyundai spokesman noted that the pace in opening stations in California has been slower than expected, frustrating automakers and the state alike.
In South Korea, there had been tension between Hyundai and the federal government. The South Korean government had been concerned that Hyundai was focusing too much on fuel cells to the detriment of pure electric vehicles.
“They had some worries, but finally it’s going really smooth,” Ahn said, after Hyundai explained that it intends to retail electric vehicles, too, but needs to sell FCVs for long-distance drivers.