Shell and Hyundai team up for US hydrogen vehicle infrastructure

Hyundai is partnering with Shell to expand California hydrogen infrastructure in support of its Nexo fuel-cell crossover.

The car company and Shell have enter into an agreement called Project Neptune under which Shell's hydrogen-infrastructure division is to construct 48 new stations and upgrade two existing stations in California as per a Hyundai press release, with development due to start this year. As part of Project Neptune, the automaker said it has "committed to fuel cell sales growth supporting the expanding hydrogen infrastructure."

The likely goal for this project is to ensure that enough hydrogen passenger cars are on the road to justify the infrastructure expansion, which is scheduled to begin before the end of the year.

Infrastructure has been the main hurdle to fuel-cell vehicle adoption, but expanding the number of stations has proven more difficult than building new charging stations for battery electric vehicles.

Dispensing hydrogen at a pressure of 70 MPa has been the standard for passenger vehicles for more than a decade, but the stations capable of refueling at this pressure cost nearly $2 million to build.

A recent report projected 100 California stations by the end of 2023—but pointed out the industry and state's bad record of actually meeting its targets in this area.

Hyundai remains optimistic about hydrogen, however. Earlier this year, the company unveiled an expansive vision encompassing sports cars and cargo drones. It's also targeting price parity with battery electric vehicles by 2030.

The company also sees a future for hydrogen in heavy-duty commercial vehicles. It recently joined with other stakeholders to establish a refueling standard for these vehicles, which would avoid the CHAdeMO vs. CCS vs. Supercharging vs. GB/T split that has divided—and stymied, some might say—EV fast charging globally.

California plans to have 200 fueling stations for 70,000 heavy-duty hydrogen trucks by 2035. Some of those trucks will be fielded by Hyundai in pilot programs.