Hyundai used to be a leader in buses but the explosion of the huge, protected Chinese market has resulted in the global leaders consisting entirely of Chinese companies growing their sales rapidly - mainly with pure electric buses - and Daimler, with declining sales. Pure electric buses made in China are now being sold worldwide and they have much innovation, not just the lowest cost base founded on large domestic orders: they often make in one month what non-Chinese competitors make in one year.
Now Hyundai has an electric bus. Mr Yeongduck Tak, Senior Vice President and Head of Commercial Vehicle R&D Division, recently said, "Hyundai Motor has achieved a lot in the eco-friendly vehicle field, but we will never stand still. We continue to invest heavily to ensure zero-emission technology for all commercial vehicles." His new Elec City pure electric bus "provides a glimpse into the future of the public transportation."
True, the 180-mile range matching the best Chinese equivalents is enabled by a massive 256 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack rather like the Chinese vehicles. The company announced that they plan to soon start "mass production" of the vehicle. It will be interesting to compare it with the Proterra pure electric buses in the USA that have demonstrated long range, carbon fiber and other advances in buses with such huge batteries. The alternative is more passengers and less battery achieved by having top up charging as favoured by Solaris, ABB and others.
Questionably, Hyundai, says they "are only making electric plug-ins until hydrogen fuel cell vehicles take hold". Parts suppliers and other OEMs are putting fuel cell work on the back burner or exiting completely. Earlier this year, Hyundai launched the Ioniq Electric, which is priced extremely competitively in some markets, and they are preparing to launch an all-electric SUV. See IDTechEx reports, Electric Buses 2017-2027, Energy Harvesting for Electric Vehicles 2017-2027, Electric Motors for Electric Vehicles 2017-2027 and Power Electronics for Electric Vehicles 2017-2027.
Dr Peter Harrop of analysts IDTechEx says, "There is a long game here. The Chinese Nanowinn microbus is energy independent and the Stella Lux car from the Netherlands with four passengers is energy positive, depositing surplus electricity into the grid at the end of the day. Clearly it can be developed into a midi bus that is energy independent or even energy positive if it adopts the next advances in multiple energy harvesting, new regeneration technology, wide band gap semiconductors and a host of other developments - even electricity generating tires - as described in our new reports such as Triboelectric Energy Harvesting 2017-2027. "
IDTechEx hosts the world's first conference on Energy Independent Electric Vehicles including energy positive ones at the Technical University of Delft September 27-28.
Top image: Solar Team Eindhoven