Seoul’s first hydrogen bus plies No. 405 route

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Seoul’s first hydrogen bus plies No. 405 route

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Seoul’s first hydrogen fuel-bus No. 405. [HYUNDAI MOTOR]

A hydrogen-powered bus made its debut in Seoul on Thursday as part of a city government pilot program to see if hydrogen could be a viable source of energy for public transport.

Thirty more hydrogen-powered buses will be added to regular bus routes in six cities for test runs starting next March.

Hyundai Motor said Thursday that its latest hydrogen bus has been added to Seoul’s route No. 405, which runs 43 kilometers (26.7 miles) from Yeomgok-dong in southern Seoul to Seoul City Hall in central Seoul. The bus will use the charging station at Hyundai Motor’s Seoul headquarters in Yangjae-dong, southern Seoul, and will run four to five times a day. Route No. 405 already has 18 compressed natural gas-powered buses.

Last month, the first hydrogen bus for public transportation, from a third generation made by Hyundai Motor, was deployed in Ulsan. It is able to travel 317 kilometers on a single charge in cities and can get up to 92 kilometers per hour.

Hyundai Motor, the ministries of Environment, Industry and Transportation as well as the city governments of Seoul; Ulsan; Gwangju; Seosan and Asan in South Chungcheong; and Changwon in South Gyeongsang signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Thursday to promote hydrogen as a source of energy by building infrastructure and coming up with subsidies to promote the technology.

Under the MOU, seven more hydrogen buses will be delivered to Seoul, three to Ulsan, six to Gwangju, five to Changwon, five to Seosan and four to Asan starting next March.

“The hydrogen-powered bus No. 405 will be cleaner, safer and more convenient than any other transportation method,” said Chung Jin-haeng, president of Hyundai Motor.

On the same day, 13 companies agreed to launch a special purpose company (SPC) dubbed Hydrogen Energy Network (HyNet) and invest 135 billion won ($119.4 million) to further promote hydrogen energy in Korea. Hyundai Motor, Korea Electric Power Corporation, Air Liquide, Hyosung Heavy Industries and Kolon Industries are some of the companies that participated in the SPC.

“With the cooperation of the state and city governments, [HyNet] will participate in building charging stations for hydrogen-powered vehicles and other infrastructure,” Hyundai Motor said in a statement.

Hydrogen-powered buses are being deployed around the world for public transportation as their quick charging time and ability to travel longer distances give them an advantage over lithium-ion electric vehicles. Buses’ regular routes also makes it easier to recharge, even with a limited number of charging stations. Global consulting firm McKinsey predicted the number of hydrogen buses will reach five million units globally by 2050.

Some 150 hydrogen buses are already in operation in Europe and Toyota announced that 100 of its hydrogen buses will be on Japan’s roads by 2020. In June, the Korean government said it plans to operate 1,000 hydrogen buses in the country by 2022.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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