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Hyundai ‘shows path forward for eco-friendly motoring’

Mike Song, head of operations for Africa and the Middle East.
Hyundai is taking a leading role in the transition toward a more environmentally sustainable motor industry by creating a practical path forward in moving from fossil fuels to electric vehicles that will suit a wide range of worldwide markets.
While there is now a consensus in the motor industry that electric vehicles will dominate the future, Hyundai’s Head of Operations for Africa and the Middle East, Mike Song, said there is a tendency for companies to focus too heavily on a limited choice of technologies. As a result, the products in development may not be suitable for all markets, or all uses.
Hyundai is taking a different approach. Instead of committing to one form of technology, the Korean company is now manufacturing models using four different approaches to electric power: Fully electric, hybrid, plug-in and hydrogen fuel cell.
“Most major carmakers are developing cars with electric motors, and there is a general understanding in the industry that this is the future, and that electric cars are essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting the effects of climate change,” said Song. “The problem is how do we store the electricity needed to drive an electric motor? Electric power has always been possible, and in many ways better than internal combustion, but energy storage has always been the limiting factor.”
Until recently, most alternative drivetrains in production were hybrids, with an electric motor and internal combustion engine sharing the work of turning the wheels. Hybrids are being joined by a growing number of cars that only use an electric motor to move the car. These either rely on rechargeable batteries to store energy to drive the motor, or can be a plug-in hybrid, which has a battery-electric drivetrain, but with an internal combustion engine acting as a generator when the batteries cannot be recharged from an external power source.
Also arriving as a commercially available option are fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEV), after many years of research and development and several high-profile prototypes. With an FCEV, the fuel cell generates electricity using a chemical reaction, in which liquid hydrogen is a key ingredient. The hydrogen is replaced at special filling stations, comparable to the way a conventional car is refueled with petrol.
Hyundai has been testing various electrified drivetrains for more than 25 years, has been offering hybrids as part of its international product line-up since 2009, and was the first company to offer a production fuel-cell model when it released the Tucson FCEV in 2014. Last year, the company launched its first dedicated eco-car platform, the IONIQ.
“Of the current technologies, hydrogen is the only one that matches the convenience of petrol or diesel for quick refueling, but it requires a big investment in infrastructure, and is more expensive,” said Song. “Fully electric vehicles need long periods of downtime to recharge their batteries, while hybrids offer reduced emissions vehicles rather than no emissions.

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