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News reports recently announced that Hyundai would be suspending its Genesis hydrogen fuel cell program. The even bigger news, perhaps, was that the company was also supposedly suspending future work on the development of internal combustion engines.
Since the initial reports came out, it’s come to light that this news about Hyundai may have been exaggerated. Still, Hyundai and other manufacturers have had to deal with bans on internal combustion engines coming from such entities as the European Union, so let’s take a look at the full story.
What was reported about Hyundai?
As reported by The Detroit Bureau, Hyundai recently sent an email to employees that seemed to disclose the company’s future plans regarding hydrogen fuel cell and internal combustion engine vehicles. Hyundai had previously put quite a bit of effort into its hydrogen fuel cell technology development. At one point, it was even testing a hydrogen fuel cell bus in Europe.
The email announcing Hyundai's supposed change in focus, which came from its new head of Research and Development, Chung-Kook Park, stated that "it is inevitable to convert into electrification. Our own engine development is a great achievement, but we must change the system to create future innovation based on the great asset from the past."
But as Driving.ca later reported, it seems that Hyundai is not canceling its hydrogen fuel-cell program—and the company confirmed this.
In fact, in a statement to Driving.ca, Hyundai said, “Our fuel cell division was recently split in two and expanded: The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Development Center is in charge of technology development, and the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Business Center will further strengthen business strategies and operations.”
Problems in technology development
Electrek also laid out many of the problems that faced Hyundai in its development of hydrogen fuel cell technology. These challenges included lower than expected production and sales, infrastructure that was slower to be built than expected, and the high cost of hydrogen fuel.
The internal combustion engine has faced many headwinds of its own in recent years, including a ban from the European Union and growing concern about climate change from consumers. So even though Hyundai is not canceling its hydrogen fuel-cell program, the company, like many others, is increasing development of battery electric vehicle technology.
Hyundai’s focus on electric vehicles
Hyundai's emphasis on EVs has manifested itself in a number of different ways in recent years. One way in which Hyundai has highlighted its EV program is through an EV subscription service, a care package that includes maintenance and roadside assistance.
In addition, as The Detroit Bureau notes, Hyundai introduced its first all-electric platform, the E-GMP, back in December of 2020. The goal is that the platform will support 23 battery-electric vehicles in the next three years.
Then this past spring, Hyundai announced a planned investment of $7.4 billion to produce electric vehicles in the U.S. It is expected that if all goes well, the first of these vehicles will be produced in 2022.
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