The fleet just reached a big milestone
By RONAN GLON
Hyundai’s fleet of hydrogen-powered truck prototypes reached a significant milestone in Europe in June 2021. With a successful testing phase comes a tremendous amount of data, and the information gathered during 11 months of real-world evaluation across the pond will ultimately help the firm design a truck sized for American roads.
Real-world users have collectively put 1 million kilometers (about 621,400 miles) on the 46 trucks that Hyundai built for testing purposes, meaning each rig has covered an average of around 13,500 miles. They’re in the hands of 25 different companies operating in Switzerland, including some in the logistics, distribution, and supermarket sectors. So far, users have been pleased: They praised the Xcient truck’s long driving range and short refueling times, attributes that a comparable electric model wouldn’t be able to offer. Specific figures weren’t released.
Hyundai will continue manufacturing the Xcient for early adopters in Switzerland. It plans to build 140 units of the truck for the Swiss market in 2021, and it hopes that number will grow to 1,600 by 2025. Starting the project in Switzerland was a decision that carried relatively few risks. It’s a country that’s roughly a tenth the size of California, and its road network is relatively well developed. Next, the South Korean company will branch out into other European countries. It hasn’t decided where yet, but it singled out Germany and Holland as likely candidates.
The trucks that Hyundai is letting loose on European roads are all rigid-body models, meaning the box is attached to the frame. Looking ahead, engineers hope to use the data gathered on the Old Continent to develop a semi truck (also called a tractor unit) that will be closer to the Freightliner and Peterbilt models that roam America’s highways. It’s no coincidence that these prototypes will be launched and tested in the United States.