Hyundai has delivered the first seven hydrogen-powered Xcient trucks to customers in Switzerland, as the company commits billions of dollars to hydrogen technologies.

The seven transport vehicles are the first of 50 to be delivered before the end of 2020, with Hyundai expecting to produce around 2000 hydrogen fuel cells in 2021.

The south Korean manufacturer sees hydrogen as a significant key in delivering sustainable vehicles, and claims the technology developed for trucks will ultimately be transferable to passenger platforms in the future.

It has already committed to manufacturing more than half-a-million battery electric cars in 2025, with 23 electrified Hyundai models expected to be offered locally by that stage.

While the first deliveries of hydrogen trucks is a significant milestone, there’s still some way to go before the fuel is viable on a large scale in Australia.

As Switzerland is around 3/5ths the size of Tasmania, the 400 kilometre range from the 33 kilogram hydrogen tanks fitted to the trucks makes sense, as does its top speed of 85km/h.

Locally, the hydrogen trucks would work for connecting large distribution centres on the outskirts of metropolitan areas to destinations closer to the city.

As a prime mover, the Hyundai Xcient hydrogen truck can tow 36 tonnes, or can be rated to 19 tonnes as a heavy rigid (with a tray or box body fitted).

A 350kW/3400Nm electric motor draws power from a 73.2kWh battery pack, and drive is transferred to the wheels via an Allison 4500 Series six-speed automatic.

Hyundai says the 33kg fuel tanks can be doubled or tripled, increasing the range of the vehicle to around 1200km. However, these larger tanks would take significantly longer to refuel.

Engineers for the Korean company say the truck’s range could theoretically be doubled just by compressing the hydrogen.

At this stage Hyundai’s Xcient hydrogen truck is only produced in left-hand-drive, however the company says it is exploring a limited roll-out locally for garbage trucks and defence applications.

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