Hyundai CE to develop hydrogen-powered construction equipment

Hyundai Construction Equipment has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a joint development of hydrogen fuel cell construction equipment with Hyundai Motors and Hyundai Mobis. Together, the three companies will look to develop hydrogen-powered forklifts and medium/large hydrogen-powered excavators over the next few years.

According to the MOU, Hyundai Motors and Hyundai Mobis will design and manufacture hydrogen fuel cell systems, including power packs, while Hyundai Construction Equipment will design, manufacture and evaluate the performance of excavators and forklifts. The target date for mass production and distribution has been set for 2023.

Hyundai said that unlike conventional diesel engine-based equipment, hydrogen-based electric construction equipment uses electricity produced through the chemical reactions between hydrogen and oxygen as its power source, meaning no emissions of toxic gases into the air. Given the rapidly rising demand for eco-friendly equipment around the world in recent years, hydrogen-based construction equipment is expected to help Hyundai Construction Equipment compete in the global construction market moving forward.

Furthermore, compared to lithium batteries, which reportedly have been marred by structural issues limiting various attempts to increase battery capacity, hydrogen fuel cells are believed to be much easier to expand, making them a much more logical choice for large forklifts or excavators.

The partnership between Hyundai Construction Equipment and Hyundai Motors is also expected to give the construction equipment industry a boost in terms of creating a hydrogen-based ecosystem. 

Hwang Jong-hyun, head of R&D division for Hyundai Material Handling at Hyundai Construction Equipment said, “With this latest agreement, we’ve prepared a foundation upon which we can secure core technology in hydrogen-powered construction equipment ahead of our competitors. Hyundai Construction Equipment will do its very best to meet the challenges that lie ahead, as countries around the world attempt to establish global standards in terms of certifying the performance of equipment and legislating relevant laws for the commercialisation of hydrogen-powered construction equipment, and play a leading role in the market moving forward.”

In the last decade, Hyundai Construction Equipment has been focusing on developing eco-friendly construction equipment and machinery. The company mass-produced the first reel-type electric excavator (wired-type equipment used with its power cable plugged in) in 2010, and in 2018, it developed a small electric excavator equipped with a large capacity battery for the first time in Korea.