Great Wall, China’s largest SUV maker, has announced that it will launch its first hydrogen fuel cell SUV this year. A bet that they have been developing for several years and with which they intend to place themselves in the top 3 of hydrogen vehicle manufacturers worldwide in three years. It is not a casual movement, but the result of a progressive commitment to the hydrogen car.
The world’s largest auto market wants to go beyond the electrical transition. In the fall of 2020, China announced new public policies to support hydrogen vehicles and the necessary infrastructure. In the past, specific assistance had been offered in the purchase of this vehicle, but for a few months China has also required that local administrations and companies develop the necessary infrastructure. A step forward in terms of maturity that has ended up leading to brands such as Geely or Great Wall announcing their support for this technology.
Hydrogen cars want to go as fast as electric cars
Wei Jianjun, founder of Great Wall, explains that over the past five years his company has invested some 260 million euros (2 billion yuan) in hydrogen-related technologies and they plan to invest another 390 million euros over the next three years. “The development of the industry related to hydrogen will advance as fast as that of electric vehicles,” they say from the Chinese manufacturer.
Hydrogen has the advantage that it is a clean technology and is not subject to the high costs of recycling lithium or the batteries themselves. Nevertheless, producing it and taking it to the vehicle is very expensive and in practice they end up generating derivative emissions. If already in electric cars the charging infrastructure is relevant to facilitate their adoption, with hydrogen cars the infrastructure to bring hydrogen closer to it has an even more necessary role.
China wants a million fuel cell cars to hit its streets over the next decade. The current hydrogen car market is led by Japanese brands such as Toyota with its Mirai, but China seeks to follow the path of Japan In this sector.
In addition to manufacturers such as Great Wall, SAIC Motor, China’s largest carmaker, has announced that it plans to gain 10% of the hydrogen market by 2025. A landing not as close as Great Wall, but that it anticipates that the big Chinese brands also have the hydrogen car among their plans. In total, over the next five years, SAIC Motor plans to launch at least 10 hydrogen-based models.
In the case of Great Wall, the company has announced the intention to launch up to eight new models based on the WEY brand, also for the next five years.
In January 2021, Hyundai Motor announced the establishment of a hydrogen car factory in China. Despite the rivalry between South Korea and China, the manufacturer announced that its Hyundai Nexo would be produced at a plant southeast of Guangzhou. An investment of close to 1,000 million euros and that by mid-2022 should be ready for produce about 6,500 hydrogen cars per year.
The hydrogen fuel cell already has a significant presence in China in Geely buses, available in multiple large cities in the country, according to the company.
At the moment the number of hydrogen cars is still derisory compared to the number of electric cars. According to Reuters data, it is estimated that there are just over 7,000 hydrogen cars in China. Very little compared to the more than 4 million electric. But as with the electrical transition, the different engine manufacturers are accelerating for the hydrogen car and these numbers could be very different in a few years.
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