Nobody can say with ironclad certainty just what the future of personal transportation is going to feel like. It’s a safe bet to assume that the internal combustion engine fueled by gasoline, which has been around since Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz first got a carriage to chug along by using one, is going to be elbowed aside at some future point. Exactly whose elbow does the hardest shoving is something that remains to be seen. Obviously, electricity is going to be a major role in this. But other alternatives exist. The technology of fuel cells powered by hydrogen is one of them. And in both South Korea and the United States, Hyundai has made significant investment in moving fuel cells beyond the realm of feasibility studies.
To that end, Hyundai has entered into a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, a teaming-up that the automaker disclosed today is in for a significant expansion. The DOE has an existing research program in place to assess the viability of hydrogen as a fuel for motor vehicles. As part of that study, Hyundai delivered a NEXO hydrogen-fueled electric SUV to the DOE last year, which is now undergoing evaluation. Today, Hyundai said another five NEXO SUVs will be delivered to the DOE, and that Hyundai will build a small-scale hydrogen refueling station in the Washington, D.C., metro area, a site that could predict what a future hydrogen-oriented “gas” station might be like. Hyundai is deeply serious about the prospects for hydrogen and cars: Its declared goal is to build 700,000 vehicles powered by fuel cells annually by 2030.