Hyundai is bringing its XCIENT fuel cell truck to the USA for the first time through two government-funded projects in California. The incoming 32 demo trucks are based on XCIENT Fuel Cell with technical modifications with Hyundai specifying a range of 500 miles (800 km).
Hyundai had revised the XCIENT fuel cell trucks in May this year, stating a 350 kW electric motor combined with two 90 kW fuel cell stacks. While the company does not detail the US models about to be deployed, it is safe to assume specs to be largely the same.
There are two projects, with the smaller one seeing two demo vehicles being deployed in Southern California with $500,000 in funding from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD). Largely funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the project is designed to help achieve clean air standards in the South Coast Air Basin by reducing emissions from diesel trucks.
Hyundai and its fleet partners plan to use the two trucks for a year to transport between warehouses. In partnership with First Element Fuel (FEF), refilling will happen at three H2 fueling stations in the region.
The much larger project – Hyundai claims it to be the H2 truck demo in the States – is scheduled to begin in Northern California in 2023. Through the ‘NorCAL ZERO’ project, Hyundai and its partners have secured a total of $29 million in funding from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Energy Commission (CEC), as well as the Alameda County Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
It will see Hyundai deploy 30 Class 8 XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks with a 6×4 drive axle configuration. Glovis America, a logistics service provider, will operate the trucks. Additional funding comes through Macquarie’s Specialized and Asset Finance business, acting as a lease to the operator.
As part of NorCAL Zero, the consortium also plans to establish a high-capacity hydrogen refuelling station in Oakland, California and says it will support as many as 50 trucks with an average fill of 30 kilograms.
International hydrogen truck projects
In today’s announcement, Hyundai accounted the funding success in the US to its track record in Europe. The company had announced its plan to deliver 1,600 XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks to Europe by 2025, more specifically in Switzerland in October 2020. The first 46 units were delivered to Switzerland last year, and they have cumulatively driven more than one million kilometres, or about 620,000 miles, in 11 months of service. During that time, the fleet has reduced CO2 emissions by an estimated 630 tons, compared to diesel-powered vehicles, according to Hyundai.
Already then, Hyundai had stated its intention to sell hydrogen fuel cell-powered trucks in North America by 2022 as reported. In Europe, after Switzerland, Hyundai said that market launches would follow in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway.
In presenting their international hydrogen fuel cell trucks international sales strategy, Dr Saehoon Kim, Senior VP and Head of Fuel Cell Center, regularly refers to the EU hydrogen policy and the Californian Advanced Clean Trucks Rule. The latter requires manufacturers to sell a gradually increasing proportion of electric trucks, vans and pickup trucks from 2024 onwards until 2035. By 2045, every new commercial vehicle sold in the US state should run with zero emissions.
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