Hyundai Motor plans California test of fuel cell trucks

July 29, 2021

Land Line Staff

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Hyundai Motor Co. plans to have two Class 8 Xcient Fuel Cell heavy-duty trucks on the road in August in Southern California.

The hydrogen fuel cell tractor-trailer demonstration is one of two publicly funded California projects the company recently announced.

Hyundai debuted its Xcient Fuel Cell trucks last year in Switzerland, according to a Hyundai news release. The Switzerland debut involved 46 trucks. They cumulatively have been driven more than 620,000 miles in 11 months of service, according to a news release. During that time, the fleet has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 630 tons, compared to diesel-powered vehicles, the company estimates.

The U.S. fuel cell truck model has a maximum driving range of 500 miles.

Hydrogen fuel cells produce electricity to power a motor. It produces water and heat as byproducts. Hyundai touts its Xcient Fuel Cell heavy-duty trucks are the world’s first mass-produced, heavy-duty truck powered by hydrogen.

Southern California

The Southern California demonstration is funded by a $500,000 grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. It is largely funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The project is intended to demonstrate how the fuel cell trucks can help reduce emissions from diesel trucks.

The trucks will be used for long-haul freight operations between warehouses in Southern California for a 12-month period.

Hyundai also plans to work with First Element Fuel to use three hydrogen refueling stations in the region to refuel the trucks.

Northern California

In Northern California, Hyundai plans to deploy 30 Class 8 Xcient Fuel Cell tractor-trailers by the second quarter of 2023, according to a news release.

Hyundai’s Zero-Emission Regional Truck Operations with Fuel Cell Electric Trucks project, also known as its NorCAL ZERO project, is funded by $22 million in grants from the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission and $7 million in grants from the Alameda County Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

The grants were won by a consortium led by the nonprofit organization Center for Transportation and the Environment and Hyundai Motor.

The NorCal ZERO project trucks will have a 6×4 drive axle configuration. Glovis America, an Irvine, Calif.-based logistics service provider that is part of Hyundai Glovis, will be the fleet operator for the trucks. Australian investment company Macquarie Group Ltd.’s specialized and asset finance business, part of its Commodities and Global Markets Division, will finance the trucks through a lease to the operator.

The consortium also plans to establish a high-capacity hydrogen refueling station in Oakland, Calif., that is expected to be able to support as many as 50 trucks with an average fill of 30 kilograms. LL

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