Hyundai junks plan to launch hydrogen car in India


Hyundai Motor, India’s second-biggest carmaker, has scrapped the plan to launch the country’s first hydrogen-powered car for lack of fuel, a decision that comes at a time when the government is pushing for cleaner fuels to reduce emissions.

Speaking to Moneycontrol, Hyundai Motor India Managing Director and CEO SS Kim said, “We signed some MoU (memorandum of understanding) for supply for hydrogen (fuel) but from a commercial perspective. For a normal buyer to own a hydrogen vehicle and use it on a daily basis, it won’t happen in the near future. This will take time”.

The Korean carmaker had plans to bring Nexo, its first hydrogen car, to India in 2021. The Hyundai Nexo, a five-door, five-seater sports utility vehicle, which is slightly bigger than the Hyundai Creta, was the carmakers choice for a hydrogen-powered car, also called fuel-cell cars.

The global version of the Nexo comes powered by a 120kW motor (163 ps power) with a fuel tank capacity of 163 litres of hydrogen. The car can deliver a driving range of 800-1000km.

Kim, however, added that Hyundai had imported four units of the Nexo to India which could be for testing and evaluation purposes.

Though the pace to push hydrogen as the next best alternative to fossil fuels like petrol and diesel may be slower than desired, the government of India is keen on making hydrogen the fuel of the future.

Earlier this month, India committed to spending $ 200 million over the next five-seven years to promote the use of hydrogen, an officer in the ministry of new and renewable energy said.

This is the first concrete announcement by the government after the Union Budget 2021 talked about a National Hydrogen Mission.

Addressing Amazon’s Sambhav Summit recently, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said hydrogen fuel cell was one of the clean-fuel technologies the government would push for. Fuel cell technology uses chemical reactions between hydrogen and oxygen to generate energy.

Hydrogen is considered to be the cleanest form of energy as its only by-product is water. When used for mobility needs, hydrogen has far greater benefits than fossil fuels and can be retailed like traditional fuels.

Hydrogen can be a practical option for long-distance vehicles because of its light weight and high energy. Hydrogen-powered vehicles have a higher  drive range, besides a 50 percent reduction in fuel consumption compared to conventional fuels.

The automotive industry in 2020 moved a step closer to the commercial launch of hydrogen-powered vehicles in India, with the government-instituted automotive industry standards committee submitting a final draft on its regulations.

The government in 2018 slashed the goods and services tax (GST) on hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles by more than half to 12 percent as compared 28 percent on petrol, diesel and CNG vehicles.

While developing a long-range, fully electric vehicle has its limitations, hydrogen-powered vehicles can be developed to fulfil the needs. Countries like the United States, Germany, Japan, South Korea and China are already running hydrogen-fueled cars and buses.

Though the hydrogen car plan in India is off the table, Kim confirmed that the launch of a compact and affordable fully electric car was on and would be launched in the “near future”.