Hyundai and WeRide plan to fuel self-driving with hydrogen in China • TechCrunch


While hydrogen is still relatively niche as a fuel for electric vehicles, a startup in China is leaping forward for embracing self-driving scenarios.

WeRide, one of China’s most funded robotics operators with investors including the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, He said On Tuesday it is teaming up with Hyundai to launch a “hydrogen-powered self-driving pilot area” in Guangzhou, the southern capital where it is headquartered.

The collaboration comes at a time when the search for and production of clean hydrogen is increasing focal point of Chinawhich has been striving to decarbonize its economy.

Details are scarce from the ad. It is not clear when the pilot will start, what the scope of the experiment will be, or what exactly is powered by hydrogen, which is one of the cleanest fuels as it is combined with oxygen to produce only water vapor and power. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see hydrogen unmanned vehicles roaming the experimental area since Hyundai has been betting heavily on fuel.

In fact, the ad states that WeRide, Hyundai and Hengyun, a Chinese power generation and supply company, will work together “to create demand for the use of the hydrogen fuel cell battery for drone street cleaning and riding.”

In September last year, Hyundai He said It planned to offer hydrogen cell fuel versions for all of its commercial vehicles by 2028. The association with WeRide could expand the use case of its hydrogen products to an automated hub. Hydrogen-fueled vehicles can be recharged within minutes, making it an ideal vehicle for taxi operations if there is adequate refueling infrastructure.

Guangzhou is a natural choice for an experiment since Hyundai has been producing hydrogen fuel cell systems in the city since March 2021. When the facility opened last year, the South Korean auto giant made Set an annual goal To produce 6,500 units with the aim of gradually increasing production capacity in line with Chinese market conditions and central government policies.

China has made a major push to electrify public transportation. In Shenzhen, the hardware capital of the world, almost all buses and taxis Runs on lithium-ion battery packs. While the city is quieter with cleaner air thanks to the initiative, battery safety and recycling remain big sticking points for local authorities. Long lines often form at charging stations where it can take hours to fully refuel lithium-ion batteries.

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