At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2024, companies including Hyundai, Nikola, and Bosch presented their most recent fuel cells and hydrogen technology innovations, indicating a potential comeback for this environmentally friendly energy choice. This resurgence might be influenced by the announcement of a $7 billion U.S. government initiative last year aimed at developing hydrogen infrastructure in the country.
Hydrogen is a key element in Hyundai’s blueprint for sustainability. At CES 2024, Hyundai conducted Media Day, highlighting their strategic theme “Ease Every Way”, a transformation powered by hydrogen and driven by software, which includes the new “HTWO Ecosystem” and “Software-Define Everything (SDx)” strategy.
Hyundai’s approach to hydrogen includes the extension of the current HTWO (representing “Hydrogen” and “Humanity”) fuel cell system brand to encompass a broader range of Hyundai’s hydrogen value chain business. This strategic step aims to foster innovation and expedite the development of the hydrogen ecosystem, concentrating on four key areas: production, storage, transportation, and utilization. Hyundai anticipates that, with the newly introduced HTWO brand, it will acquire 3 million tonnes of hydrogen each year by 2035. This hydrogen will play a vital role in fueling sectors like clean logistics, green steel production, and power generation.
Hyundai also revealed its latest initiatives in green hydrogen production. Among the upcoming plans is the establishment of manufacturing capabilities for megawatt-scale polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyzers dedicated to producing green hydrogen. Currently, PEM electrolyzers are approximately 1.5 times more expensive than their alkaline counterparts. Nevertheless, Hyundai is confident that employing a strategy of component sharing can ultimately improve the cost competitiveness of PEM technology. The commercialization of the PEM electrolyzers is anticipated to occur in the coming years.
Another recent advancement involves Hyundai’s emphasis on resource circulation hydrogen production technology, aimed at converting environmental pollutants into green hydrogen. Hyundai’s initiatives in this domain encompass Waste-to-Hydrogen (W2H) and Plastic-to-Hydrogen (P2H). W2H entails the fermentation of organic waste to generate biogas, which is subsequently processed to capture carbon dioxide and yield hydrogen. On the other hand, P2H involves the melting of non-recyclable waste plastics, gasifying the molten plastics, and extracting hydrogen by eliminating unnecessary elements.
Hyundai’s Footprint in Southeast Asia: Building a Sustainable Future
Hyundai has already turned its attention to Southeast Asia, demonstrating early commitment by supporting Indonesia in achieving its sustainability goals through investments in the country’s electric vehicle capabilities. Now, Hyundai is also actively involved in establishing the hydrogen value chain within Indonesia. The company is setting up hydrogen mini-hubs in the country, leveraging on the local community waste for Waste-to-Hydrogen production. This strategic approach eliminates the necessity for hydrogen transportation and storage. Furthermore, Hyundai is actively looking for suitable locations in West Java for the deployment of the HTWO grid solution. This move holds the potential to contribute significantly to the region’s energy market in the distant future.
Singapore has also displayed a keen interest in hydrogen as a sustainable energy source in recent years. There is an anticipation that hydrogen will serve as a complementary and diversifying element in Singapore’s power mix, with the potential to fulfill up to half of the nation’s power requirements by 2050. Hyundai is poised to play a pivotal role in this trajectory through its recently established Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center Singapore (HMGICS).
The Hyundai Motors Group Innovation Center Singapore: A Hub for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation
The Innovation Center is one of two key pillars of Hyundai’s innovation strategy (the other being the new Ulsan EV factory) that will guide the company into a new era of electrification over the next half-century. The center’s “M-CHoRD” concept is based on 5 pillars: “Customer-Centered Approach”, “Human-Centered Digital Transformation”, “Open Innovation”, “Resource Circulation”, and “Data-governed integration”. These elements are designed to foster the adoption of innovative practices across the customer value chain. As evidenced by the MOUs signed with various key organizations at its official inauguration in November 2023, the center is poised to play a crucial role in the hydrogen ecosystem, the advanced manufacturing landscape, and in driving innovation through collaboration in Singapore.
The seven-story center, spanning 86,900 square meters, has been operational since early 2023. It has been actively involved in the production of the IONIQ 5 and the fully autonomous IONIQ 5 robotaxi. In addition to its current projects, the facility is delving into future mobility solutions, including a new business model known as Purpose-Built Vehicles (PBVs). This approach entails the design, manufacturing, and sale of highly customized vehicles tailored to meet the specific application needs of customers.
The center’s innovative hub design plays a key role in facilitating the delivery of new innovations. Specifically, the shift from traditional conveyor-belt manufacturing to a cell-based production system is central to this transformation, enhancing flexibility and automation.
About half of the tasks are executed by a team of 200 robots, fostering an unprecedented level of collaboration among humans, robotics, and AI systems. This collaboration is enabled by seamless integration through the digital twin platform. Employees can simulate tasks in the digital virtual space while robots physically handle components on the production line. Tasks like assembly, inspection, and facility organization, as well as over 60 percent of component process management, ordering, and transportation, are handled by robots. This frees humans from repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus on more creative and productive responsibilities.
With the enhanced degree of automation, the newly established center is expected to deliver more value through enhanced degree of customization, new offering and experiences, as it reshapes the customer journey, starting from the initial brand interaction, through the sales process, delivery, and ownership.