S. Korean clean energy vehicle makers target overseas commercial vehicle markets

By Park Sae-jin Posted : May 9, 2023, 14:06 Updated : May 9, 2023, 14:06

[Courtesy of Hyundai Motor]

SEOUL -- While many countries around the world are joining a global initiative that aims to achieve net-zero carbon emission by 2050, South Korean clean energy commercial vehicle makers including Hyundai Motor are eyeing overseas markets with electric buses and hydrogen fuel cell commercial heavy-duty trucks.
Commercial clean energy vehicles are mainly divided into two sectors -- electric and hydrogen fuel cell -- and while the electric drive system is widely adopted by many countries, hydrogen fuel cell systems are yet to be distributed due to the lack of charging infrastructure. Because hydrogen charging stations could devastate a nearby area when they combust, many local communities fear having one in urban environments.
According to data released by P&S Intelligence, a global market analyst group, the global market for electric commercial vehicles stood at $68.9 billion in 2022 and it is projected to reach $814.8 billion by 2030. The number of electric commercial vehicles will skyrocket over the years as more countries will join the global clean energy initiative.
Viet Nam is one of the countries that are rapidly undergoing changes from conventional combustion engine-based commercial vehicles to clean energy ones. The Southeast Asian country plans to replace up to 50 percent of its commercial buses with electric buses by 2030 and only operate electric buses by 2050. The electric bus market in Viet Nam stood at $28 million in 2021, accounting for up to 0.1 percent of the global market.
South Korea's sport utility vehicle (SUV) maker KG Mobility, formerly known as Ssangyong Motor, seeks to make a foray into Viet Nam's electric commercial bus market through the acquisition of Edison Motors. KG was selected as the preferred negotiator for the acquisition of Edison Motors, a domestic electric bus maker, in late April.
According to the results of the investigation conducted by KG Mobility, Edison Motors produces electric buses with a localization rate of up to 85 percent and has its own technological competitiveness and sales network. KG Mobility believes that it can sufficiently revive the company by enhancing its competitiveness.
Along with Viet Nam, Thailand is also pushing to accelerate its electrification by increasing the number of Bangkok's electric buses to up to eight thousand units in three years. Meanwhile, Indonesia's commercial electric bus market is expected to grow at a whopping annual rate of 75 percent until 2028. KG could establish a bridgehead into other Southeast Asian countries' electric commercial vehicle markets in Viet Nam after the acquisition of Edison Motors.
Hyundai targets the global hydrogen fuel cell-based commercial vehicle market with Xcient, a heavy-duty truck model. The carmaker targets China which would deploy up to one million hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2030. The company formed a joint venture called Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility with Swiss Company H2 Energy to lease hydrogen trucks to commercial operators in Europe. Hyundai plans to deploy 1,600 units to Europe by 2025.
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