Hyundai Motor Company (HMC) unveiled its HDC-6 NEPTUNE Concept Class 8 heavy-duty truck during the 2019 North American Commercial Vehicle Show (NACV Show). The truck's drive system is composed of a 50 kW electric motor coupled to an automatic transmission. Several hydrogen fuel cells are included on the vehicle, and can be refueled in about 2 minutes, said the company during its introduction of the vehicle at the NACV Show.
Hydrogen is seen as a particularly beneficial alternative to diesel as it is plentiful and only emits water vapor. While infrastructure for refueling is still an issue, many manufacturers—both OEMs like Hyundai and component manufacturers including Cummins Inc.—are investing in hydrogen technology.
HDC-6 NEPTUNE Concept
One of the key design inspirations for the HDC-6 NEPTUNE Concept was the streamliner railway trains that ran from 1936 until 1959, a prime example of Art Deco industrial design. The pioneering twentieth century industrial designer, Henry Dreyfuss, applied a prime example of Art Deco design for the New York Central Railroad in the 1930's, symbolizing the greatest technological wonder of the era, while looking bold and iconic at the same time.
HDC-6 NEPTUNE employs this inspired function driven design, with new ways to combine both form and function to create an entirely unique new solution within the commercial vehicle industry, while offering a holistic global approach.
“The fuel cell powertrain gave us the opportunity to redefine the classical typology and architecture of the truck,” said Luc Donckerwolke, Chief Design Officer of Hyundai Motor Group. “The Hyundai Commercial Vehicles Design Team started with a white sheet of paper focusing on the new defined functionality resetting all standards in order to project commercial vehicles in the future.”
On HDC-6 NEPTUNE, the design team took packaging challenges and found new ways to combine both form and function. Due to increased cooling requirements, the grill of the concept commercial vehicle is applied as the theme across the entire lower portion of the Hyundai HDC-6 NEPTUNE. This creates a distinctive image while maximizing airflow. The grill concept also integrates the retractable steps, which are cleverly hidden. The combination of both cab over engine and conventional (bonnet) truck formats achieves packaging efficiency and improved ergonomics
“HDC-6 NEPTUNE, the concept for the next-generation fuel-cell electric truck, embodies Hyundai Motor’s vision of mobility for a global hydrogen society, innovatively developed applying Hyundai designers’ creativity and the company’s advanced technology,” said SangYup Lee, Head of Hyundai Design Center. “To maximize the potential of a next-generation fuel-cell electric vehicle, HDC-6 NEPTUNE delivers groundbreaking futuristic architecture. In particular, one can understand Hyundai’s novel approach to the interior design of the space and in capturing lifestyle-oriented mobility.”
Vision for a hydrogen future
Hyundai introduced the concept as part of its Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) 2030 Vision for wide-spread deployment of hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology. In addition to the HDC-6 NEPTUNE Concept Class 8 heavy-duty truck, it trailer manufacturing brand Hyundai Translead (HT) announced the launch of a new, clean energy refrigerated concept trailer, the HT Nitro ThermoTech. The tractor-trailer combination provides a window into the future of the transportation in the U.S. and around the world.
In December 2018, Hyundai invested USD 6.4 billion to accelerate the development of a hydrogen society, looking beyond passenger vehicles.
“Today at this show, by showing HDC-6 Neptune, the first hydrogen-only concept for Hyundai Motor Company’s commercial vehicles, we will start exploring opportunities in the United States commercial vehicle market,” said Edward Lee, Head of Hyundai Commercial Vehicle Business Division. “Furthermore, we are willing to work with other partners to pave the way to establish a hydrogen ecosystem for CV.”
Hyundai has the necessary processes and experience to develop the quality vehicles that support its FCEV 2030 vision for a hydrogen ecosystem. For commercial vehicles, fuel cells are the perfect fit for heavy duty trucks and long driving distances due to higher drive range, higher payload, less refueling time and ultimately lower costs.
The HDC-6 NEPTUNE evolves the Class 8 truck, looking toward the future in design, in-cab technology and propulsion system. The concept continues Hyundai’s leadership in moving to a decarbonized society and the advancement of zero-emission vehicles. This future truck will add to the company’s success in commercial vehicles, which are already sold in 130 countries around the world.
Hyundai chose to debut the HDC-6 NEPTUNE at the NACV Show because it is interested in exploring opportunities in the United States commercial vehicle market, and is open to working with other partners to pave the way to establish a hydrogen ecosystem for commercial vehicles.
Hyundai has already expanded its global leadership in fuel cell technology. Through its joint venture with H2 Energy, Hyundai is commercializing fuel cell electric trucks by providing 1,600 FCEV heavy-duty trucks to the Swiss commercial vehicle market, beginning 2019 through to 2023. With Hyundai’s commercial vehicle entry to the European market, the U.S. market is an important next phase of the company’s FCEV 2030 vision.