Hyundai announces plans for hydrogen trucks in California

Hyundai Motor Company has announced plans to deploy the company’s latest hydrogen fuel cell electric heavy-duty trucks in California. The demo trucks that Hyundai will bring into the United States will be involved on two publicly funded projects to improve the air quality in the region.

Based on XCIENT Fuel Cell, Hyundai’s mass-produced, heavy-duty truck powered by hydrogen, the US models will provide a maximum driving range of 800 kilometres according to the OEM who debuted the vehicle last year in Switzerland where it embarked on a real-world evaluation that has since eclipsed one million kilometres.

Hyundai will leverage insights gained from these public projects to develop its zero-emission commercial fleet business in the US and establish local partnerships across the value chain.

Partnering with public and private partners in the US to operate 30 units of Class 8 XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks, Hyundai expects to commence what it calls the largest commercial deployment of Class 8 hydrogen-powered fuel cell trucks in the second quarter of 2023.

A consortium led by the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) and Hyundai Motor recently won $22 million in grants from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) and $7 million in additional grants from the Alameda County Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in support of the project.

Hyundai’s NorCAL ZERO project, also known as Zero-Emission Regional Truck Operations with Fuel Cell Electric Trucks, will deploy 30 units of Class 8 XCIENT Fuel Cell, with a 6×4 drive axle configuration, to northern California by the second quarter of 2023. Glovis America, a logistics service provider, will be the fleet operator of these trucks.

Macquarie’s Specialized and Asset Finance business, part of its Commodities and Global Markets division, will finance the trucks through a lease to the operator.

“We are proud to fund this hallmark deployment of 30 hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks and improve the air quality in Northern California,” said Hannon Rasool, Deputy Director of Fuels and Transportation Division at the California Energy Commission.

“These investments will support zero-emission trucks and infrastructure development and deployment as part of the US market ecosystem.”

The consortium also plans to establish a high-capacity hydrogen refueling station in Oakland, California that will be able to support as many as 50 trucks with an average fill of 30 kilograms.

Hyundai Motor was also awarded a $500,000 grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) to demonstrate in Southern California two Class 8 XCIENT Fuel Cell heavy-duty trucks. Largely funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the project contributes to the attainment of clean air standards in the South Coast Air Basin by reducing emissions from diesel trucks.

Hyundai Motor and its fleet partner plan to begin operating these trucks in August. They will be used for long haul freight operations between warehouses in southern California for a 12-month period.

Hyundai will also work with the market leader in hydrogen refueling stations in California, First Element Fuel (FEF), to utilise three hydrogen refueling stations in the region to refuel the trucks.

“We look forward to seeing this important fuel cell project from Hyundai come to life,” said Ben J. Benoit, South Coast AQMD’s Governing Board chair. “The development of long haul zero-emission truck technology is key to reducing emissions that will provide immediate benefits to our air and our communities.”

Hyundai Motor was able to gain the support of California funding agencies and local communities to demonstrate its hydrogen fuel cell heavy-duty commercial vehicles, in large part due to the XCIENT Fuel Cell truck’s proven track record in Europe.

In 2020, Hyundai announced its plan to deliver 1,600 XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks to Europe by 2025.

The first 46 units were delivered to Switzerland last year, and they have cumulatively driven more than 620,000 miles in 11 months of service.

During that time, the fleet has reduced CO2 emissions by an estimated 630 tonnes, compared to diesel-powered vehicles.

The Class 8 XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks that Hyundai will deploy in California will have a maximum driving range of 800 kilometres, because the hydrogen will be stored in greater quantity on the vehicle in tanks rated at 700 bar, or about 10,000 psi, of pressure.

The maximum gross combination weight of Class 8 XCIENT Fuel Cell truck will be more than 37 tonnes.

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