Korean automotive giant, Hyundai, says hydrogen is essential for cutting carbon emissions from transportation, especially heavy-duty trucks, and intends to roll out a cheaper, smaller fuel cell system to power every commercial vehicle model it makes—as well as drones, emergency vehicles, homes, trains, ships and a sports car.

The Korean industrial giant, which is readying a new line of battery-powered vehicles, and which has previously committed billions of dollars to commercialise hydrogen-powered trucks, said it will introduce a next gen fuel cell system in 2023, that it says will be  50 per cent cheaper,  and 30 per cent smaller while being twice as powerful as the current version.

The company says that every truck, bus and commercial vehicle it produces will also be offered with a fuel cell powertrain by 2028, and the company said its hydrogen-power system will reach cost parity with battery packs by 2030.

“Countries and companies are developing feasible carbon-neutral solutions to help combat global warming. Hyundai’s solution to this problem is to encourage a shift in the energy paradigm to hydrogen,” Hyundai’s group chairman, Euisun Chung said.

“Hydrogen is a powerful solution to combating climate change,” Chung added.

Hyundai is taking a similar path to automotive and trucking rivals including Toyota, Hino, General Motors, Daimler, Volvo, Cummins and newer upstarts such Nikola and Hyzon in lining up behind hydrogen as a better electric-vehicle option for heavy, long-range vehicles than batteries owing to weight savings and faster refueling.

The big challenge remaining for the technology is to overcome the high costs for fuel cells stacks and hydrogen tanks that make the vehicles more expensive than those powered by carbon-based fuels or batteries.

Additionally, the supply of “green” hydrogen, sourced from renewable energy and water, or sourced from waste materials, needs to expand dramatically to ensure maximum carbon reduction.

HY7Beyond cars and trucks, hydrogen fuel cells have been used extensively by NASA for decades to power stationary electricity generators and are also currently being developed to power trains as well as ships and ferries.

The U.S. Energy Department hosted its first Hydroge Shot Summit  at the end of August, and is promoting the fuel, along with batteries and renewable energy as key tools in the battle against climate change.

“The fuel can be be a multi-trillion-dollar global market in the coming decades, and industry estimates that the U.S. could build 700,000 jobs in the hydrogen economy just by 2030,”  said the Biden Administration’s Special Envoy for Climate, John Kerry at the conference.

“Hydrogen offers a way to bridge the gap between the clean energy technologies we have today, such as wind, solar, nuclear, hydro and geothermal power, with the vast set of end uses of energy that aren’t yet hooked up to the power grid today,” Kerry said.

Hyundai’s big hydrogen push follows plans by Toyota to start making fuel cell modules at its Georgetown plant in Kentucky in 2023, for use in commercial vehicles, and Nikola’s fuel cell partnership with Bosch  that includes making the power units at the company’s new Arizona plant also from 2023.

Hyundai’s new fuel cell modules will be produced in 100- and 200-kilowatt variations and it also wants to use the technology for “trams, trains, ships and urban air mobility, according to Euisun Chung.

The Hyundai chair said the company said its exploring options to use hydrogen for non-transportation applications including home and building power systems and in power plants.

Hyundai said it would spend close to $7 billion on commercialising  hydrogen technology, and aims to produce hundreds of thousands of hydrogen powered vehicles by 2030.

During the video presentation, Chung showed off a hydrogen-powered, autonomous Trailer Drone, the company’s idea for a clean, robotic truck.

Hyundai is also working on concepts for emergency vehicles, a rescue drone and the Vision FK, a future high-performance, rear-wheel-drive sports car that accelerates from 0-100km/h in under four seconds.

“We have long understood the tremendous potential of hydrogen energy, so over the past 20 years we have devoted significant resources and talents to developing hydrogen-based technologies,” Chung said.

“Our vision is to apply hydrogen energy in all areas of life and industry,” he added.