Hyundai Motor and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors will regain the leadership in the fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) market from Toyota. Hyundai Motor is planning to mass produce hydrogen powered cars in the first half of next year, while Kia Motors also has a plan to mass produce FECVs based on the Sorento.
According to industry sources on November 20, Kia Motors plans to mass produce hydrogen powered cars based on follow-up models of the Sorento s at the end of 2020. The company is still considering the exact amount of production but it is expected to be about the same level of 4,000 units of Hyundai Motor. This is the first time that Kia Motors has decided to mass produce FCEV models. The company released cars for research and development based on the Sportage and the Mohave in the past but it has never led to mass production for actual sale.
Accordingly, the Kia Sorento FCEV and the Hyundai next-generation FE FCEV will become the duumvirate to regain the market leadership from Toyota. Hyundai Motor succeeded in mass producing hydrogen powered cars for the first time in the world in 2013 but has had difficulties in selling them due to high prices and lack of charging facilities at home. The company also saw its sales be overtaken by Japan’s Toyota, which started mass production in 2014, a year later than Hyundai Motor, in other countries as well. Toyota had sold 4,268 units of the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car until September this year, exceeding the sale of 834 units of the Tucson ix35.
Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors will focus on SUV-based FCEVs complying with the current popularity of sports utility vehicle (SUV) in the market. In addition to the two companies, Genesis also unveiled the GV80 concept SUV with a hydrogen fuel cell hybrid powertrain at the New York International Auto Show held in April this year in the same context.
According to market research firm IHS, the compact (B-segment) SUV market grew 10 fold in six years from 485,000 units in 2010 to 4.64 million units in 2016. The market is also expected to increase 19.4 percent to 5.54 million units this year.