Kia had planned to market its first fuel cell electric car in late 2021 and thus start a career that its sister brand, Hyundai (but especially Toyota), is already well advanced. However, the crisis the auto industry is going through is causing resources to be prioritized, and it seems that Kia is leaving hydrogen for the moment.
According to Autocar, the South Korean firm is not clear that it is feasible to develop a vehicle with these characteristics in a post-pandemic context, due to the high price that they also represent for the consumer.
Industry decides to prioritize battery electric cars
In statements by the director of operations of Kia in Europe, Emilio Herrera, Kia does not consider that the fuel cell is something that should be promoted now, and added: “If we say that electric vehicles are expensive for the consumer, the hydrogen cars are even more expensive.”
In this scenario, everything indicates that the brother of the Hyundai Nexo will have to wait. This possible move joins a presumed withdrawal from Mercedes-Benz in the development of hydrogen fuel cell cars, with the possible cessation of production of the Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL.
Daimler, parent of Mercedes-Benz, has been working on the hydrogen cell for more than three decades. However, the manufacturing of the GLC F-CELL is a great cost for the company, specifically double that of a homologated battery electric.
Also Honda or Volkswagen have announced that their short-term efforts will focus on the battery electric car, leaving hydrogen behind. In line with Kia, the German firm believes that the fuel cell will not, until 10 years from now, be as competitive as electric car batteries.
In Spain, currently only one hydrogen model is sold, the Hyundai Nexo, which starts from 72,250 euros, which explains why only one registration of a specimen was registered in 2019 in our country.
Kia began testing its hydrogen SUV – dubbed the Kia Borrego / Mohave FCEV – in late 2008 in the United States and Korea. At the time it was advertised with 685 km of driving range, a 110 kW engine and a maximum speed of 160 km/h.
In 2016, the South Korean firm began testing the Kia Sportage FCEV, but it was never commercialized.