As of October 2020, the hydrogen-powered Nexo sales exceeded 10,000 units in Korea. It is the first time in approximately two and a half years since its release back in March 2018. Considering Hyundai has successfully expanded a newly established FCEV market by utilizing hydrogen energy, it is indeed noteworthy.
NEXO, an FCEV getting more popular than ever
Nexo sales are growing fast over time. In 2018, domestic sales reached 727 units, but in 2019, they grew nearly six-fold to 4,194 units. The sales so far as of October reached 5,097 units, way above that of last year.
Ulsan Metropolitan City has the largest number of Nexo registrations (17 percent). Ulsan is one of the prototype hydrogen cities assigned by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport last December, and is leading the way in building a hydrogen ecosystem; from hydrogen production to logistics, charging infrastructure, housing, and transportation industry. In addition, five hydrogen charging stations are currently being operated in Ulsan. The relatively superior infrastructure for hydrogen charging stations supports the high sales of FCEVs. In addition, more than 1,000 Nexo units were registered in Gyeonggi Province (13.8 percent) and Seoul (13.8 percent), respectively, taking up the biggest sales volume.
What is notable is that among the accumulated sales of Nexo until Oct. 28th this year, there are far more retail consumers (88.3 percent) rather than corporate clients (10.9 percent). In other words, more consumers used Nexo’s cars in their daily lives, not in government offices or companies. In addition, more male consumers bought Nexo, and speaking of the age group, people in 30s to 60s evenly chose Nexo. To be specific, customers in their 40s (28.9%) and 50s (26.2%) were the biggest groups. Considering the practicality of SUVs, the high-tech and eco-friendly features seem to have appealed greatly to the elderly.
Meanwhile, the most beloved body shades were White Cream, Titanium Gray, Dusk Blue, Cocoon Silver, and Copper Metallic. Except for the White Cream color, which is widely selected regardless of the model, Titanium Gray (24.6%) and Dusk Blue (21.7%) which emphasize Nexo’s eco-friendliness and cutting-edge image were picked mostly.
It is also worth paying attention to the current status of sales of FCEVs in the global market. The Hyundai Nexo is also making stable sales in North America and Europe, where the hydrogen energy industry is growing rapidly. Its speedy growth can also be seen in overseas sales. The global sales of Nexo, accumulated until September this year, already exceeded that of the same time last year. The achievement was more noteworthy considering the global auto market has been severely shrunk by the COVID-19.
Looking at the FCEVs sales by the automaker, the competitive model had to go through a sharp drop in sales due to the shrinking auto market caused by the COVID-19, while the Nexo sakes rather increased. Nexo’s fuel cell system, which has been drawing attention as a next-generation green powertrain, Hyundai’s advanced convenience, and safety specifications, and the excellent utilization of SUVs seem to have played a positive role. Hyundai, along with a Japanese car manufacturer that also sells FCEVs, has shown strong performance in the FCEV sector and is leading the eco-friendly trend.
Hyundai Motor Company in 1998-2020, introducing the era of a hydrogen society
It takes a lot of effort to create a completely new market in any industry. The same goes for FCEVs. Hyundai established a research team dedicated to developing FCEVs in 1998 and completed developing Nexo after 20 years of countless efforts. The first outcome was a test vehicle using Santa Fe back in 2000. In 2004, the company introduced the first-generation test vehicle based on Tucson that used the company’s own cell stack to the fuel cell system for the first time in Korea. And in 2013, the automaker launched the world’s first mass-produced FCEV, the ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle. The fuel cell system of ix35 won the world’s first 2015 Wards Auto 10 Best Engines as a fuel cell vehicle, proving Hyundai’s level of technological development.
The vision of the FCEV, symbolized as FE, has realized when the next-generation FCEV, Nexo, was released back in March 2018. Nexo is equipped with a next-generation fuel cell system developed solely by the automaker itself and features a range of 609 kilometers (based on domestic standards) on a five-minute single charge, and is an eco-friendly car that filters out fine dust from the atmosphere while driving. Nexo’s 113kW fuel cell system was selected as one of the top 10 Engines of the 2019 Wards Auto, highlighting the excellent performance and efficiency of FCEVs, and Nexo was tested by Euro NCAP (The European New Car Assessment Programme) in 2018 to prove its highest level of safety.
In addition, Hyundai developed the XCIENT Fuel Cell in July, establishing the world’s first mass-production system for large-size fuel cell trucks. And the fuel cell bus Elec City, which began mass-producing also in July, announced its first step into the Middle East market two months later. As a result, Hyundai has successfully led the development of an FCEV technology, which symbolizes the eco-friendly energy industry, from private vehicles to commercial ones.
The vision of a hydrogen society coming near us
The world is focusing on developing green energy to reduce carbon, which has become the gravest danger of mankind. Hydrogen is an eco-friendly energy source that Korea, the U.S., Europe, China, and Japan are paying attention to. Governments and private corporates are working on expanding hydrogen industries from various perspectives such as materials, chemicals, energy, and mobility; they assume the hydrogen society will be realized between 2025-2030, which uses hydrogen energy in every way.
Hyundai Motor Group announced its mid-and long-term plan, , which is worth 7.6 trillion KRW, to supply 500,000 FCEVs and 700,000 fuel-cell systems annually by 2030. In particular, the company plans to utilize hydrogen energy in various transportation and logistics industries such as buses, cargo, vessels, and railways, not to mention power generation and storage sectors to guide us to the hydrogen society.
The establishment of the world’s first mass-production system for large fuel cell trucks in April and the export of 10 fuel cell trucks Xcient to Switzerland in July also prove the point. If hydrogen energy can be applied to the automotive logistics industry, which deals with a much longer average range than private vehicles, it would reduce emissions by huge and it would be also easier to build hydrogen charging infrastructure, considering such vehicles mostly go through fixed routes. The fuel cell truck Xcient is an eco-friendly truck housing a 190kW-fuel-cell system and seven large hydrogen tanks that allow even a 400-kilometer trip on a single charge.
Hyundai began mass-producing the hydrogen-powered bus, Elec City, starting from this year, and delivered the first vehicle to Jeonju City Hall in July and finished the first overseas export in September to Saudi Arabia. The fuel cell bus Elec City, which features a range of 430 kilometers on a single charge, being exported to the Middle East is noteworthy, considering the region is dominated by gasoline engines.
Just as announced through the FCEV Vision 2030, Hyundai plans to speed up its entry into the hydrogen society by incorporating its own fuel cell technology into various transportation and power generation sectors. Let’s enjoy a safe and happy life by utilizing eco-friendly hydrogen energy in various ways.