Hydrogen and electric will work hand-in-hand – Hyundai

It’s not a battle between two fuels, it’s about choosing which one works best.

Much has been made of the battle between hydrogen and electric power, as the motoring world looks to wean itself off fossil fuels. Depending on who you ask, that’s the wrong way of looking at things.

Speaking with CarAdvice at the opening of Australia’s first high-speed EV charge station in Euroa, Scott Nargar, Hyundai Australia’s manager of future mobility and government relations, suggested a combination of hydrogen and electric power will underpin our transport future, with each serving different roles.

“I keep getting asked ‘what’s going to be the winner between fuel-cells and EVs’, and really it’s a question we shouldn’t be asked,” Nargar said, sitting behind the wheel of a Kona Electric.

“We genuinely see zero-emissions vehicles being a combination of both EV and fuel-cell… if we’re genuinely serious about reducing our emissions, we need to look at both technologies,” he went on.

According to Nargar, who speaks like a man passionate about his job, electric vehicles can serve the space currently dominated by petrol – think passenger cars, and those spending most of their time around town. Hydrogen, on the other hand, could be used to sub in for diesel, allowing long-haul driving in heavy vehicles.

“Exactly where diesel sits now is where fuel-cell is, and where lives today, that’s where electric cars are going to be,” Nargar added.

If electric vehicles are in their infancy Down Under, hydrogen cars are barely a twinkle in their parents’ eye. Hyundai and Toyota are part of Hydrogen Mobility Australia, designed to drive the rollout of hydrogen locally, and there’s a fleet of fuel-cell powered Hyundai Nexo SUVs bound for our market.

But infrastructure is still incredibly limited. There’s only one fuelling station in the ACT, designed to support the government fleet of Nexos incoming next year, although there’s talk about two more coming.

Although it’s very, very young, Nargar was adamant hydrogen could mobilise people used to covering huge stretches of desert in their LandCruiser utes as the technology matures.

“When you talk about your big LandCruisers and stuff, those will be replaced with hydrogen fuel-cell. And it’s really just a transfer of the technology,” he said, pointing at countries planning to ban internal-combustion vehicles outright.

At some point you’re not going to be able to buy a petrol or diesel – that point will be 2030 in some parts of Europe – and people will still need to cover long distances. When that time comes, something will need to power them and, according to Nargar, that’s hydrogen.