Hyundai and Ineos team up to develop hydrogen future

Published: 23 November 2020

► Hydrogen development partnership revealed
► Hyundai provides Ineos with NEXO powertrain
► Two brands working together to 'accelerate economy'

Major hydrogen fuel cell player, Hyundai, has joined forces with Ineos to, among other things, develop a hydrogen version of its British-designed Grenadier.

The development of the fuel cell 4x4 is just one part of a new, major cooperation reaching way beyond just automotive. The brands have signed a memorandum of understanding to ‘explore new opportunities to accelerate the global hydrogen economy’. That will involve the two companies working together on the production and supply of hydrogen, and the global deployment of hydrogen applications and technology.

No hybrid for the Grenadier, then?

Ineos executives have spoken in the past about how hybrids didn’t look like promising green alternatives for the Grenadier, but hydrogen-electric might, given that billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s petrochemicals empire includes Inovyn, Europe’s largest operator of electrolysis, the process by which renewable energy produces hydrogen for power generation, transportation and industrial use. The Ineos family already produces 300,000 tonnes of hydrogen a year, mostly as a by-product of its chemical manufacturing operations.

Ineos commercial director Mark Tennant has said: ‘We’re looking at a pure EV, but that’s got its limitations in terms of the amount of our payload of one tonne that the batteries would use up. So that’s not ideal. We’re looking at hydrogen fuel cell as a possibility. For this class of vehicle that could be a more interesting conclusion, longer term. That’s where Ineos has an interesting perspective, as a producer of hydrogen through its existing businesses.

‘We’re launching with internal combustion engines, because to deliver on the engineering blueprint we don’t think there’s another game in town right now, but like everybody we’re watching the development of technologies and infrastructure very closely.

‘The internal combustion engine – clearly its days are numbered. We will need to move forward in other directions.’

Nexo powertrain

And now Ineos and Hyundai have signed a memorandum of understanding to ‘explore new opportunities to accelerate the global hydrogen economy’. That will involve the two companies working together on the production and supply of hydrogen, and the global deployment of hydrogen applications and technology.

Most relevantly to us, that includes evaluating Hyundai’s proprietary fuel cell system for the Grenadier. That’s the same system already available in the Hyundai Nexo, the world’s first dedicated hydrogen-powered SUV, with the longest driving range of any hydrogen car currently available. If it’s not a familiar sight on the roads, that’s a combination of a £70k price and the scant availability of hydrogen refuelling stations.

How does this affect Hyundai?

In 2018, Hyundai Motor Group announced its mid- to long-term roadmap, Fuel Cell Vision 2030, to increase annual production of hydrogen fuel cell systems to 700,000 units by 2030.

Ineos technology director Peter Williams said: ‘The agreement between Ineos and Hyundai presents both companies with new opportunities to extend a leading role in the clean hydrogen economy. Evaluating new production processes, technology and applications, combined with our existing capabilities, puts us in a unique position to meet emerging demand for affordable, low-carbon energy sources and the needs of demanding 4x4 owners in the future.’

By Colin Overland

CAR's managing editor: wordsmith, critic, purveyor of fine captions

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