Hyundai has long been an advocate for alternative energy. Until recently, that advocacy has been centered on lithium-ion batteries. Like many in the auto industry, Hyundai had invested heavily into battery power, believing that it would be the future of electric vehicles. Now, however, the Korean car manufacturer has all but abandoned its support of lithium-ion batteries in favor of hydrogen fuel. Hyundai’s transition toward hydrogen may signal that, when it comes to pure-electric cars, the battery is no longer a viable option.
The auto industry has been making a rapid shift toward incorporating hydrogen fuel. Exactly what triggered this shift is unknown, given the fact that many prolific automakers once denounced the prospect of hydrogen as a replacement to oil, especially when competing against lithium-ion batteries. As more companies adopt the fuel, however, it is becoming clear the hydrogen is much more than a flight of fancy for a few, ambitious car makers, it is quickly becoming a full-fledged revolution.
Hyundai already has plans to develop hydrogen-powered vehicles, but will leave the majority of the work to fellow automaker Kia. Hyundai owns 51% of Kia and has been pushing the company in the direction of hydrogen for some time. Kia expects to release a hydrogen-powered SUV into the commercial market by 2015.
Kia is also developing a smaller hydrogen-powered vehicle that will be released in South Korea by the end of this year.