The South Korean group Hyundai is to sell 1,000 hydrogen-powered trucks to Switzerland in the next five years, with the first vehicle scheduled for delivery at the end of 2019. Switzerland will be the first country with a fleet of such vehicles.
Trucks are mostly powered by diesel, which creates a pollution problem. That means electrical vehicles are an interesting potential market. But motor manufacturers have different ideas. The South Korean company Hyundai and the Japanese firm Toyota are among the rare vehicle manufacturers to bet on hydrogen in the race to make more environmentally friendly vehicles.
Hydrogen vehicles use hydrogen fuel cells, which allow production of electricity on board, emitting only water.
Other manufacturers, however, are betting on more traditional, rechargeable electric batteries. In the truck sector, Tesla et Daimler plan to launch vehicles equipped with electric batteries in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
So, with Switzerland as a testing ground, Hyundai is hoping to beat its rivals to the race. Most of the 1,000 vehicles will be used by the Coop retailer for delivering goods to its shops.
Switzerland as pioneer
Hyundai said in a press release that it is to cooperate with the Swiss start-up H2 Energyexternal link, which will take care of maintenance.
It added that Switzerland is an ideal place for a major test using 1,000 trucks. First, Switzerland has introduced a particularly high tax on heavy vehicles, which favours a rapid transition to more environmental energy. Also, Switzerland has already been experimenting with hydrogen.
Coop opened a first public hydrogen filling station in 2016 in canton Aargau, and in spring this year seven Swiss companies, including retail giants Migros and Coop, formed an association to create a national network of filling stations for hydrogen-powered vehicles.
swissinfo.ch with agencies/OP