Hyundai Motor succeeded in mass production of hydrogen electric vehicles for the first time in the world, but it falls behind late starter Toyota in terms of sales.
According to industry sources on June 20, the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell were sold 17 units in the U.S. market as of May this year, while the Toyota Mirai were sold 178 units.
Hyundai Motor is selling the Tucson Fuel Cell only through lease programs in the U.S. from 2014. Customers can lease the Tucson Fuel Cell for US$499 (578,341 won) per month for a 36-month term, with a US$2,999 (3.48 million won) down payment. On the other hand, the Toyota Mirai, which was launched in the U.S. in September last year, is available for both sale and lease, significantly expanding sales. Unlike the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell with the global annual production of 200 to 300 units, Toyota expects that it will be able to sell 2,000 units of the Mirai this year, based on support from Japan.
It means that Hyundai Motor has failed to enjoy the benefits as the first mover in the market. The problem is that new competitors are emerging. Honda released the Clarity Fuel Cell in March, aiming to sell 200 units through lease programs this year. Nissan has joined hands with Mercedes-Benz to develop and launch a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle next year. In particular, three Japanese automakers – Toyota, Nissan and Honda – are making a joint investment in the construction of hydrogen fueling stations, cooperating to expand the hydrogen powered car market.
Hyundai Motor is welcoming the market expansion with the participation of competitors but is feeling a sense of crisis that it could fail to preoccupy the market at the same time. This is why the company is rapidly developing the next-generation models and forming partnerships in order to strengthen the competitiveness as the first hydrogen fuel cell brand.
Hyundai Motor, in cooperation with The Linde Group, a Germany-based global gas company, has started the world’s first fuel cell car sharing service BeeZero. The company plans to offer the service in Munich and major neighboring bases first and expand it to other European countries. It also signed a memorandum of understanding with Air Liquide S.A., a French industrial gas company, in Grenoble, a city in southeastern France, on the 4th (local time) to carry out the hydrogen electric taxi project in Paris. Hyundai Motor plans to release the next-generation hydrogen powered car model in 2018 but it can move up the release date according to market conditions. Unlike the previous Tucson Fuel Cell models for mass production, the company aims to launch the latest hydrogen fuel cell-only model which can travel 800 km on a single charge. This is almost double the current level of 415 km.