Hyundai is switching lanes from EVs in a quest for another ‘clean’ fuel

Amidst an automotive renaissance led primarily by EVs, the Hyundai Motor Group  (HYMLF) – Get Free Report is seeking to expand its reach into a different find of fuel to achieve its carbon neutral future. 

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The South Korean automaker announced at a keynote during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Jan. 8 that it is setting forth on a strategy centered around hydrogen fuel that involves the production of hydrogen fuel, storage, transportation and its use throughout its affiliated businesses, including steelmaking.

Hyundai said that will play a crucial role in its “sustainability roadmap,” specifically its RE100 target to use only renewable energy in its overseas factories by 2045, and in every part of the company by 2050. Under its new HTWO brand (pronounced “H-two”, as in H2O), the company aims to take away 3 million tons of carbon emissions from the air per year by 2035. 

“The HTWO business leverages the Group’s wide-ranging capabilities in various sectors, such as automobile, parts, steel, construction, air mobility, marine, robotics and future technologies,” Hyundai Executive Vice President and Head of Global Commercial Vehicle & Hydrogen Business Ken Ramírez said in a statement. “The model focuses on the four core areas of the energy, value chain: production, storage, transportation, and utilization. The Group’s affiliates are positioned throughout the value chain, forming a hydrogen grid that allows for the development of tailored end-to-end hydrogen solutions.”

Jaehoon Chang, president and chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor Co., at the 2024 CES.

Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Korean automaker aims to achieve its goals with several innovative ways to create, store and use hydrogen throughout the company. 

First, Hyundai is developing methods to transform problem pollutants into hydrogen by using one of two methods in what it calls “reverse circulation technology.” Here, the automaker harvests hydrogen molecules from either organic waste — food, sludge or livestock manure, or by breaking down waste plastics. 

Currently, the company is working in Indonesia to enable local communities to produce its own hydrogen fuel using its waste-to-hydrogen technology.

Additionally, the automaker is developing what it calls megawatt-scale polymer electrolyte membrane, or PEM electrolyzers for hydrogen production. Electrolyzers are key to hydrogen production, as they enable water molecules to be separated down to hydrogen and oxygen in the making of hydrogen fuel. 

Last, Hyundai is centering the use of hydrogen throughout critical parts of its logistical chain where it can be used. The company has already begun deploying its hydrogen-powered XCIENT fuel cell trucks at the Port of Oakland and plans to use them at its new EV factory near Savannah, Ga.

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“At Hyundai, we believe that science and humanity are two sides of the same coin; that advanced technology should also make people’s lives better,” Hyundai Motor Company President and CEO Jay Chang said in a statement. “Clean hydrogen should be for everyone, powering everything, and available everywhere.”

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