Hyundai Motor
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First Level 4 Self-Driving Tests Conducted on Class 8 Fuel-Cell Electric Truck

June 5, 2024
Hyundai Motor and Plus will collaborate on a demo for road safety and freight efficiency using an XCIENT Class 8 hydrogen fuel-cell electric truck.

Hydrogen is a high-density energy carrier that enables fuel-cell electric vehicles to provide a sustained power output suitable for long-haul driving and carrying heavy loads. Hydrogen is also in play for commercial vehicles and logistics transportation due to its advantages with regard to production, storage, logistics, and refueling infrastructure.

But just because several hydrogen-based solutions are just around the corner doesn’t mean they’re not being demonstrated right now. At the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo, Hyundai Motor and Plus announced a collaboration aimed at demonstrating road safety and freight efficiency via an XCIENT Class 8 hydrogen fuel-cell electric truck equipped with Plus’s SuperDrive Level 4 autonomous driving software. 

Plus’s SuperDrive, being deployed across the U.S., Europe, and Australia, uses a combination of sensors, including LiDAR, radar, and cameras, to provide surround perception, planning, prediction, and self-driving capabilities.

Hyundai’s XCIENT Fuel Cell truck is undergoing initial autonomous-driving assessments in the U.S. It’s the first-ever Level 4 self-driving test on a Class 8 fuel-cell electric truck to take place in the country.

 “We are excited to showcase our collaboration with Plus to test Level 4 autonomous driving technology with our Class 8 XCIENT Fuel Cell truck,” said Martin Zeilinger, Executive Vice President and Head of Commercial Vehicle Development at Hyundai. “By adding autonomous capabilities to our world’s first mass-produced, hydrogen-powered XCIENT Fuel Cell truck, Hyundai is looking forward to providing fleets and vehicle operators additional solutions that enhance road safety and freight efficiencies thanks to Plus’s industry-leading autonomous-driving technology.”

Hyundai Motors’ Hydrogen Society Vision

At Hyundai Motor’s ACT Expo press conference, Ken Ramirez, Executive Vice President and Head of Global Commercial Vehicle and Hydrogen Business, highlighted the company’s commitment to building a hydrogen society. He spoke about the true value of hydrogen and how Hyundai Motor Group is leveraging its affiliates’ cross-industry capabilities spanning the entire hydrogen value chain—from hydrogen production and storage to logistics, transport, and diverse applications—to realize the company’s vision for a hydrogen society. 

Joining the presentation, Jim Park, Senior Vice President and Head of Commercial Vehicle and Hydrogen Business Development at Hyundai Motor North America, detailed the company’s rollout of its Class 8 XCIENT Fuel Cell electric trucks in key U.S. hydrogen logistics projects. These include the NorCAL ZERO Project and Clean Logistics Project.

Last year, through the NorCAL ZERO Project, Hyundai Motor deployed 30 XCIENT Fuel Cell trucks at the Port of Oakland and Port of Richmond to haul freight containers and vehicles, marking the single largest commercial deployment of Class 8 heavy-duty hydrogen fuel-cell electric trucks in North America. In Georgia, the company is working on the Clean Logistics Project at its Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America (HMGMA) to decarbonize the company’s production facility.

 “This landmark port decarbonization initiative in California serves as a prime example of how hydrogen trucks are paving the way towards sustainable future logistics,” said Park. “By replicating the success of NorCAL ZERO and tailoring it to specific customer needs, we at Hyundai aim to create a worldwide network of clean, hydrogen-powered operation.

ADAS and Other XCIENT Fuel Cell Truck Features

First introduced in 2020, Hyundai Motor’s XCIENT Fuel Cell truck has undergone commercial operations in eight countries worldwide. At last year’s ACT Expo, Hyundai introduced the XCIENT Fuel Cell tractor, a commercialized Class 8, 6x4 drive axle configuration, fuel-cell electric model powered by two 90-kW hydrogen fuel-cell systems and a 350-kW e-motor. It has a driving range of over 450 miles per charge, even when fully loaded, according to the company.

The XCIENT Fuel Cell truck on display at Hyundai Motor’s booth at this year’s ACT Expo featured a suite of the company’s advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) designed to enhance vehicle safety and minimize driver fatigue. Enhancements include forward collision-avoidance assist (FCA), lane-departure warning (LDW), side collision-avoidance warning (SOD) and smart cruise Control (SCC).

Video at the ACT Expo booth showed a fully digital instrument cluster and a 12.3-in. touchscreen infotainment system with physical buttons integrated into the center console for driver convenience, offering drivers clear and concise information at a glance. 

Zero-Emissions Partnership and Biogas

In a related development, Hyundai Motor and logistics provider GLOVIS America announced HTWO Logistics, a new clean logistics partnership focusing on zero-emissions transportation. “Our HTWO brand’s expanding role reflects Hyundai’s unique reach beyond mobility into an integrated hydrogen value chain to lead the global energy transition,” said Hyundai’s Ramirez.

Moving upstream in the hydrogen value chain, Hyundai has developed pioneering methods for converting organic waste into hydrogen as part of its pilot project operating in Chungju, South Korea. By extracting biogas from food waste, hydrogen can be created through this process. The hydrogen is then supplied to an on-site hydrogen refueling station to power hydrogen vehicles. The Group will have another facility in Korea by the end of this year—it will transform sewage sludge into hydrogen.

In the future, Hyundai Motor wants its hydrogen fuel-cell technology to go beyond mobility into various applications such as stationary power, industrial equipment, and soon, electrolyzers.

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