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[Exclusive] Hyundai Motor prepares ‘hydrogen’ robot taxi business in S. Korea

Hyundai Motor’s Ioniq 5 (Hyundai Motor)
Hyundai Motor’s Ioniq 5 (Hyundai Motor)

Hyundai Motor Group is developing a hydrogen robot taxi with the aim of launching a commercial service within the next few years.

According to the nation’s top automaker, the self-driving taxi will be based on the Nexo, the company’s hydrogen fuel cell-powered SUV.

“The hydrogen robot taxi is currently in the design stage. The exterior currently has cameras and sensors protruding from it, so we’re working on it. The model will be ready for mass production in one to two years,” a Hyundai Motor official said.

Previously, the company unveiled plans to offer robot taxi services with its new all-electric SUV Ioniq 5 in the US, but this is the first time the company has disclosed plans for a driverless taxi business in Korea, and its first such plan involving hydrogen vehicles.

In March, Motional -- a $4 billion joint venture between Hyundai Motor and US-based auto parts supplier Aptiv -- said that it would integrate its driverless technology into the Ioniq 5 to create the company’s first robot taxi. At the start of 2023, customers in certain markets will be able to book the fully electric, fully autonomous taxi through the Lyft app.

“The hydrogen robot taxi business will prove Hyundai Motor’s technological prowess and have a significant impact on the company’s brand image. Also, the hydrogen robot taxis will be able to address car accidents, 95 percent of which are occurred by human errors. Also, the operations of self-driving hydrogen taxis won’t be limited by a small number of hydrogen charging stations,” said Lee Ho-geun, a professor of automotive engineering at Daeduk University.

By Kim Byung-wook (kbw@heraldcorp.com)
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