Hyundai hydrogen fuel-cell HD truck packs as much battery capacity as GMC Hummer EV

Hyundai on Tuesday announced upgrades for its Xcient Fuel Cell heavy-duty truck, indicating the automaker remains committed to fuel-cell commercial vehicles.

Hyundai claims the Xcient Fuel Cell is the world’s first mass produced hydrogen fuel-cell heavy duty truck, but the automaker only plans to delivery 1,600 to European fleet customers by 2025. Production of the upgraded version also doesn’t start until August.

Offered in 6×2 and 4×2 configurations, the Xcient Fuel Cell uses a pair of 90-kilowatt fuel-cell stacks, which power an electric motor rated at 350 kw (469 horsepower) and 1,649 pound-feet of torque.

Hyundai Xcient Fuel Cell

Hyundai Xcient Fuel Cell

Seven hydrogen tanks can store a combined 31 kilograms of fuel according to Hyundai. The company said refueling takes between eight and 20 minutes (depending on ambient temperature), with a lower pressure of 35 megapascals, which makes hydrogen easier to store and dispense. Range is estimated at around 248 miles.

However, the Xcient Fuel Cell also uses three 72-kilowatt-hour battery packs for supplementary power. That’s about as much battery capacity as the upcoming GMC Hummer EV pickup truck.

2022 GMC Hummer EV

2022 GMC Hummer EV

Drawing a line from this commercial truck to a vehicle like the Hummer EV isn’t just a thought exercise. Hyundai’s top executive for engineering and R&D in December said that fuel-cell tech might be smarter than big batteries for big pickups and SUVs.

To compare, Freightliner’s battery-electric eM2 electric truck uses a 315-kwh pack in its longest-range form—and that creates the need for scaled-up charging hardware.

Freightliner eM2 electric truck

Freightliner eM2 electric truck

Hyundai initially delivered 46 Xcient Fuel Cell trucks to Switzerland last year, and claims they’ve covered over 466,000 miles since then. The automaker plans to deliver an additional 140 trucks to Switzerland by the end of the year, and show the Xcient Fuel Cell in North America as well.

Talks with local governments and logistics businesses “to establish potential joint operations” of fuel-cell trucks in the United States are underway, Hyundai said. The automaker said it’s also looking at China as another possible market.

Heavy-duty trucks fit into Hyundai’s ambition to create a “hydrogen economy,” where fuel cells are used in many applications beyond passenger cars. Hyundai last year launched a hydrogen sub-brand, HTWO, as an umbrella for these efforts.

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