The first series-produced hydrogen trucks in the world were shipped from Hyundai in South Korea on Monday. The ten copies are on their way to Switzerland. Hyundai hopes to have exported another 40 additional trucks by the end of the year.

The trucks are of the Xcient Fuel Cell type and are the first production-ready copies of their kind. The 34-ton truck has a 190 kW fuel cell unit on board. In a fuel cell, the chemical energy of hydrogen and oxygen is converted into electricity that drives electric motors.

The hydrogen truck has a total of seven fuel tanks, so that it can carry a total of 35 kilos of hydrogen. This allows Hyundai's driving range of 400 kilometers. A refueling takes about twenty minutes. The South Korean manufacturer is developing a second truck, which should have a driving range of 1,000 kilometers.

Over the next five years, Hyundai plans to put 1,600 hydrogen trucks on the road. To achieve that, the brand makes customers pay for use rather than purchase. "By reducing the costs of using hydrogen trucks, we contribute to the development of this market," said Hyundai.

Competition not so far

Like Toyota, Hyundai has been developing hydrogen vehicles for years. Together with the Japanese brand, it is the only manufacturer with a hydrogen car in its range, the Nexo SUV. Competition is still working on such vehicles, whether or not reluctantly.

BMW plans to have a small fleet of test cars ready by 2022, to introduce a production-ready model later this decade. The brand says that a fuel cell is still better suited for buses and trucks. A hydrogen car is mainly there, said project leader Jürgen Guldner last year. Volkswagen has recently expressed itself in similar terms about hydrogen cars.

At Toyota they now have the second generation of the Mirai hydrogen car ready, which will come to the Netherlands in early 2021. Daughter brand Lexus may also use the technology. Hyundai is also pushing ahead and plans to increase hydrogen car production to billions of 700,000 units a year by 2030 with investment in billions.

Competition in the truck market is not standing still either. Scania, part of the Volkswagen Group, commissioned four test trucks in Norway earlier this year. In April, Daimler and the Volvo Group announced their intention to set up a joint venture for the development of hydrogen trucks.

This Scania has been tested in Norway since January. (Photo: Scania)