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October 24, 2020

Hyundai chairman’s first stop: Hydrogen economy

PUBLISHED : October 15, 2020 - 16:24

UPDATED : October 15, 2020 - 16:24

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Starting his first day as Hyundai Motor Group’s chairman on Oct. 15, Chung Euisun attended the government’s hydrogen economy committee meeting, riding there in his company’s first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the Nexo.

Prior to the meeting, Chung had agreed to establish a joint entity with the government to expand the number of hydrogen charging stations across the country, clearly showing his commitment to creating a hydrogen ecosystem. 

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun heads to the second hydrogen economy committee meeting held at Government Complex Seoul in Seoul on Thursday. Yonhap



During the meeting, Hyundai Motor signed a memorandum of understanding with government entities, energy companies and other local companies to establish Kohygen (Korea Hydrogen Energy Network), a special-purpose company.

The agreement is part of the government’s Green New Deal policy, which involves making joint efforts with corporations to foster hydrogen fuel cell mobility.

The signing ceremony was also attended by Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun; Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Sung Yun-mo; Environment Minister Cho Myung-rae; and Hyundai Motor President Kong Young-woon.

Kohygen, which will officially kick off operation in February, will install 10 gaseous hydrogen refueling stations starting in the new year, according to the government and Hyundai Motor. Kohygen will also establish more than 25 liquid hydrogen refueling stations in 2023.

Along with Hyundai Motor, Korea District Heating Corp. and seven energy companies, including SK Energy, GS Caltex and S-Oil are participating in Kohygen.

During the hydrogen economy committee meeting, Chung participated as a civilian member. In July, Chung had vowed to lead the company to become one of the world’s top electric vehicle producers, as he took part in the government’s presentation announcing the Green New Deal.

“There are still many problems that need to be addressed, but I positively view that South Korea will be competitive and move faster than others (in the field of hydrogen fuel cell),” Chung told reporters after the meeting.

When asked about his thoughts on leading the automotive group as chairman, Chung reiterated that it is important to change the company environment so that it is “more open” to good ideas.

Regarding the restructuring of the ownership structure of Hyundai Motor Group, Chung said he was “deliberating” on it.

Amid public pressure to streamline its shareholding structures, Hyundai Motor Group had planned for a spin-off merger of its affiliates in 2018, but this failed to go through due to opposition from global hedge fund Elliott and proxy advisers such as Institutional Shareholder Services.

Chung also said his father, the former group chairman and now Honorary Chairman Chung Mong-koo, has always told him to keep quality products, and also to work diligently and maintain good health.

Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor said it is working to expand its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle portfolio, which includes buses and trucks. Hyundai recently exported the world’s first fuel cell electric heavy-duty truck, Xcient, to Switzerland.

The automaker said it aims to sell a total of 80,000 units of fuel cell commercial vehicles worldwide by 2030 -- 22,000 in South Korea, 12,000 in the US and 27,000 in China.

In addition, Hyundai Motor said it is tapping into the Kazakhstan market with CKD (complete knockdown) manufacturing plants.

On Thursday, Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Sung and Hyundai Motor CEO Lee Won-hee attended the completion ceremony for the Hyundai Motor assembly plant in Kazakhstan, which was held online, according to the automaker.

Hyundai Motor would export its automobile parts to the manufacturing plant and the vehicles assembled there would be released to the market as Hyundai vehicles, the company explained.

According to the Trade Ministry, the plant is expected to produce about 30,000 vehicles annually and create about 700 jobs there.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)

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