One thousand Hyundai hydrogen powered commercial trucks will be sold by the South Korean automaker and its partners in Switzerland in the coming five years.  Hyundai image.

Hyundai hydrogen powered trucks to launched at the end of 2019

On Wednesday, South Korean automaker Hyundai announced that over the next five years, it will sell 1,000 hydrogen-powered commercial trucks in Switzerland.

The company is partnering with Swiss hydrogen company H2 Energy and fuel cell operators in the endeavour which should be set to launch at the end of 2019.  Hyundai says its hydrogen powered commercial trucks will be the world’s first.

“We are not planning just purely 1,000 vehicles and then stop the business… We expect that much more is coming afterwards,” said Mark Freymueller, a commerical vehicle director at Hyundai told Reuters.

Freymueller added that after the Swiss launch, the company will look at offering the Hyundai hydrogen powered trucks in the US, China and other European countries.  There are limitations to the expansion however, as the company needs to find partners, including pump operators and hydrogen suppliers.

According to Hyundai, long-haul hydrogen trucks have an advantage over battery rivals, including Tesla, as the heavy batteries required can cut cargo capacity and require longer charging times.

The Hyundai hydrogen powered trucks are expected to deliver a single-fuelling travel range of about 400 kilometres.

Hyundai and its Japanese competitor Toyota are among a few automakers pursuing the development of hydrogen vehicles as carmakers around the world rush to develop greener technologies.

In June, the company announced a partnership with Audi.  The two companies agreed to share each other’s hydrogen car technology and components in an effort to cut costs and make the technology more profitable.

In 2013 Hyundai launched its first mass-produced hydrogen car, the Tucson Fuel Cell and followed up with the NEXO in 2018.  So far, it has sold about 1,140 fuel cell vehicles.  Meanwhile, Toyota has sold 6,700 Mirai hydrogen cars since launching the vehicle in 2014.

While these companies are betting the technology will take hold, expensive and uncommon re-fuelling infrastructure remains a critical hurdle.

Hyundai and its affiliate Kia Motors are not abandoning electric vehicles and are planning to release 14 battery-powered electric vehicles by 2025.