Hyundai Motor Group has become the first company in the world to establish a system to mass produce core components of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV). The group’s achievement may be evaluated to have secured a foothold to preoccupy the markets of hydrogen cars, which will emerge as a gem of the eco-friendly vehicles in the future along with electric vehicles.
Hyundai Mobis, the automotive components and system unit of the business group, said on Aug. 8 the company dedicated a plant to mass produce core components of FCEVs at the company’s industrial complex in Chungju, Chungcheongbuk-do, for producing eco-friendly automotive parts, and the facility is to go into trail operation next month.
The new plant with 13,000 sq. meters in floor space was dedicated by Hyundai Mobis at a cost of about 70 billion won. It is outfitted with a facility capable of mass producing 3,000 powertrain fuel-cell complete (PFC) modules per year. It means that Hyundai Motor Group has built an infrastructure to produce 3,000 FCEVs annually, the highest level among global automakers. The plant is designed to allow additional expansions depending on demand.
FCEVs are cars that use compressed hydrogen and a fuel cell to produce electricity that powers an on-board electric motor. Such vehicles release zero emissions and are quick to charge, making them ideal for everyday use if there is sufficient charging infrastructure.
As a differentiation strategy, Hyundai Mobis is the first company with an integrated system to produce all core parts of FCEVs. It is a sharp contract with its rival companies which produce a few hydrogen fuel cell car parts.
Hyundai Mobis has seen raised automotive parts have a competitive edge with the developing of its own proprietary technologies. The company has reduced the whole weight of the fuel cell system by 10 percent and improved its power performance by 15 percent, a Hyundai Mobis official said.
He added his company will have a competitive edge thanks to mass production and technology self-sufficiency.
Hyundai Motor Group’s building of an integrated mass production system may be construed as the group’s intention to secure an upper hand over the emerging eco-friendly car market. Mass production could lead to the achieving of the economy of scale and advancing of popularizing of hydrogen fuel cell cars, and the complementing of an integrated production system could also establish a regime to stabilize procurements.
Market survey institutions predict that a majority of global automakers are rushing to enter the global hydrogen car production market by 2020 or later. Frost & Sullivan said that the global hydrogen car production market is forecast to rise to about 100,000 units by 2022. Hydrogen cars are more excellent than electric vehicles in terms of charging and eco-friendliness.
In Japan, Toyota and Honda sell the hydrogen fuel cell sedan Mirai and Clarity, respectively. China operates a plant capable of producing 5,000 hydrogen fuel cell bus units annually in Guangzhou. The country has announced a plan to launch a full-fledge production of hydrogen fuel cells in 2020 with the goal of expanding production to 1 million units by 2030.
In 2012, Hyundai Motor became the first global automaker to mass produce hydrogen fuel cell cars by releasing the “ix35 FECV. The hydrogen fuel cell car is capable of driving 415 km per charging, but it fetches an expensive price of 85 million won. About 800 units of the car have been sold around the world between 2013 and the first half of 2017 due to a lack of hydrogen charging infrastructure. On the other hand, about 1,000 units of the Mirai have hit the road.
To advance the popularizing of hydrogen cars, Hyundai Motor plans to release a new mass production hydrogen fuel cell car model next February in time for the nation’s hosting of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. The upcoming hydrogen fuel cell car is capable of driving a maximum of 580 km per charging thanks to lightening of its weight through the employing of such advanced materials as plastic substances strengthened with carbon textile.