Moon touts Hyundai hydrogen cars in France
While the automaker struggled to boost sales of its hydrogen-powered cars in Korea due to a lack of infrastructure like refill stations, it is hoping to find new demand overseas.
President Moon Jae-in, currently in Paris as part of his nine-day trip to Europe that began Saturday, gave his support for Korea’s largest automaker’s move to penetrate the foreign fuel-cell vehicle market by trying out Hyundai’s technology in France.
On Sunday, Moon rode in the passenger seat of Hyundai’s first Nexo hydrogen-fueled sport utility vehicle to be exported to France, his second time in the vehicle after a trial in Korea in February.
He also visited the first hydrogen refill station in Paris set up by French industrial gas company Air Liquide to see how Hyundai’s hydrogen-powered Tucson, used as taxis in the French capital, is charged in only about three minutes. Moon listened to how Hyundai Motor and Air Liquide plan to develop fuel-cell electric vehicle technology and to expand charging stations for the eco-friendly vehicle.
The Korean automaker is due to ink a memorandum of understanding with Air Liquide and French energy company Engie to expand supplies of fuel-cell cars and refill stations on Tuesday.
Under the MOU, the two French companies will install enough refill stations for fuel-cell vehicles to freely move around France by 2025, according to the automaker. How many charging stations count as “enough” was not made clear.
Hyundai plans to supply 5,000 hydrogen vehicles including buses and trucks to France by 2025.
The three will also cooperate in developing business models that could induce investment for installing more hydrogen refueling stations and help operate them. In the process, they hope to draw out support from European governments in transitioning into greener car engines, by funding and through supportive policies.
“Hyundai Motor is partnering with French companies to increase the presence of hydrogen engine cars in France,” said Hyundai Motor President Chung Jin-haeng. “By promoting exports [of the eco-friendly cars] we hope to also contribute to the hydrogen-powered economy in Korea.”
Air Liquide announced its intention to participate in setting up a special purpose corporation to expand hydrogen refueling stations in Korea as well.
The special purpose corporation was planned by private companies in Korea including Hyundai Motor hoping to realize a hydrogen economy, an economic system where hydrogen is the main source of energy.
The corporation is expected to launch at the end of this year with about 200 billion won ($177 million) worth of capital. It will focus on establishing 100 hydrogen charging stations by 2022, in the hopes of making a fuel-cell car friendly environment.
According to a McKinsey report released last month, hydrogen will emerge as a strong alternative source of energy by 2050 when energy demands from the digital sector double. The report also said that up to 1.5 million autonomous taxis will use hydrogen as their energy source and 4 million trucks and vans will use hydrogen energy technology by 2030.
BY KIM JEE-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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