Hyundai to make Jeonju plant its hydrogen vehicle hub

Hyundai could convert its factory in Jeonju (North Jeolla Province), South Korea, into a hydrogen vehicle hub. This plant would then become a base for the company’s hydrogen buses and trucks.

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According to a report from The Korea Economic Daily, Lee Dong-seock, the President and Head of Hyundai’s domestic production division, recently met the company’s labour union leaders. During the meeting, Dong-seock acknowledged the declining operating rate of the Hyundai Jeongju plant.

The Hyundai Jeongju plant operates at about 40% of its annual capacity, which is 100,000 units. In 2023, it rolled out only 39,934 vehicles, and its low capacity utilisation is not a new issue. Labor Today reported in 2021 that repeated shutdowns and worker transfers were problems at the domestic plant. The Korea Economic Daily suggests in its report that the influx of low-cost electric buses from China and European-made trucks poses a challenge for the country’s commercial vehicle manufacturing industry.

Between January and May, electric buses imported from China recorded a sale of 638 units in South Korea, approximately 28% more than domestically manufactured electric buses (500 units). In 2023, Chinese companies sold 1,372 large-size e-buses in the country, capturing 50.9% of its electric bus market. That was the first time Chinese-origin models trumped domestic models in this category. As for trucks, models imported from Europe registered 3,037 units in sales in 2023, closing in on the sales of locally manufactured ones – 3,677 units.

The Hyundai Jeonju plant, founded in 1995, manufactures 14 different vehicle models, including trucks and buses. One of its most advanced models is the Hyundai Xcient Fuel Cell, the world’s first series-production heavy-duty hydrogen fuel cell truck. The Korea Economic Daily report says that the factory will start manufacturing car transport trucks, refrigerated trucks, and trailer transport trucks derived from this model by the end of the year.

Hyundai makes hydrogen buses also at its Jeonju plant. Between late 2023 and March 2024, it increased the annual production capacity of these vehicles from 500 to 3,100 units. By 2027, Hyundai will develop new hydrogen express buses and low-floor metropolitan shuttle buses and manufacture them at this factory., (in Korean), (in Korean)


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