“With 2021 XCIENT Fuel Cell, Hyundai will contribute to the widespread adoption of commercial vehicles powered by hydrogen.”– Jaehoon (Jay) Chang, CEO and President of Commercial Vehicle Division at Hyundai Motor Company
By Gary S. Vasilash
When people think about “electric vehicles” it tends to be in the context of a car like a Tesla Model 3 or if it is a truck it is the Rivian R1T. These are electric vehicles that are powered by electricity that is stored in a battery.
Fuel cell-powered vehicles are electric vehicles, too. The difference is essentially that instead of batteries there are high-pressure cylinders full of hydrogen that is then transformed on board—through the fuel cell—into electricity.
Both the traditional EV and the fuel cell vehicle then have electric motors that are used to propel the vehicle.
While most people, naturally, think of something that they might drive, a big impact both technologically and ecologically is going to be trucks—not F-150 Lightnings, but big rigs.
Batteries are heavy for sedans. They are even more massively heavy to move Class 7 and 8 trucks.
So hydrogen becomes a good alternative, especially as the amount of fuel that can be stored on board provides sufficient range, and the hydrogen tanks can be refilled within minutes, not hours as can be the case for battery recharging.
Hyundai has announced that it will begin production of its 2021 XCIENT Fuel Cell heavy-duty truck in August.
The vehicle has a 180-kW hydrogen fuel cell system and two 90-kW fuel cell stacks. There are seven hydrogen storage tanks that hold about 31 kg of fuel. That goes to power a 350-kW e-motor. The range is estimated to be about 400 km. Refueling time is from 8 to 20 minutes.
At present there are 46 XCIENTs rolling around Switzerland right now and Hyundai plans to ship an additional 140 to the country by the end of the year. It intends to have some 1,600 heavy-duty fuel cell electric trucks in Europe by 2025.
Yes, Hyundai is going to bring the model to the U.S. this year.