Daimler and Hyundai bolster low-carbon vehicle investments

Car giant Daimler has confirmed it will purchase more than £18bn worth of electric vehicle (EV) battery cells by 2030, in the same week that Hyundai pledged to spend £5.3bn on developing hydrogen-powered systems for cars, drones and ships.

Daimler is working on next-generation batteries to reduce its reliance on costly rare earth minerals such as cobalt, which is sourced primarily from war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

It will help the Mercedes-Benz owner in its bid to launch 130 electric and hybrid vehicles by 2022, as well as a range of larger vehicles.

“With extensive orders for battery cells until the year 2030, we set another important milestone for the electrification of our future EVs,” said Wilko Stark, executive vice president Mercedes-Benz Cars procurement and supplier quality.

Daimler did not specify the suppliers it would purchase its batteries from. One of the companies it currently deals with is AG Chem, which develops what it claims will be Europe’s largest electric car battery factory.

‘Hydrogen society’

Meanwhile, Hyundai’s pledge will see the firm commit £5.3bn over the next 10 years to boost production of fuel-cell systems and engines to 700,000 units. Hyundai current has a production capacity of 3,000 hydrogen cars.

The South Korean firm is investing in fuel-cell technology to help boost its long-term competitiveness, after criticism that the company was too slow to adopt battery-powered EVs.

“We will expand our role beyond the automotive transportation sector and play a pivotal role in global society’s transition to clean energy by helping make hydrogen an economically viable energy source,” said Chun Euisun, the de facto head of Hyundai Motor.

The company launched the world’s first mass-produced hydrogen car, the Tucson Fuel Cell, in 2013, but only a little more than 1,000 of the cars have been sold to date.

Hyundai is part of the Hydrogen Council, which will pledge $10.7bn towards hydrogen projects over the next five years. Oil giant Shell is another council member and earlier this year launched a new hydrogen refuelling station at one of the UK’s busiest service stations.

Fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) convert the gas into electricity to power the engine and only produce heat and water when driven. They can travel up to 700km on a single tank and can be refuelled in a few minutes.  

George Ogleby

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie