Legacy automakers’ increasing focus on EVs is welcome news, but as long as they continue to develop new internal combustion engine technology, their commitment to electrification can only be seen as tentative. Seen in this light, Hyundai’s recent decision to close its ICE development division (reported by the Korea Economic Daily) may be considered a major milestone.
Hyundai’s engine development division, which has been in operation for some 40 years, was located at the company’s Namyang R&D Center in South Korea, which employs around 12,000 researchers. Teams that were working on ICE development have been reassigned to the company’s electrification design center. The R&D center will also focus on raw materials for batteries and semiconductors.
“Now, it is inevitable to convert into electrification,” said newly-appointed R&D chief Park Chung-Kook in a message to employees. “Our own engine development is a great achievement, but we must change the system to create future innovation based on the great asset from the past.”
Hyundai and sister company Kia recently unveiled a target to sell 1.7 million EVs worldwide in 2026.
Meanwhile, in a development that may or may not be related, Hyundai has indefinitely suspended work on its Genesis hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, according to Chosun Ilbo (via Electrek). Chosun doesn’t say that Hyundai has permanently canceled the fuel-cell Genesis, but the project is at least on pause for the moment.
Last September, Hyundai revealed a hydrogen strategy that included the introduction of a new third-generation fuel cell in 2023, and fuel cell systems for all commercial vehicles by 2028. Since then however, an internal audit showed that fuel cell development has fallen short of targets—sales have been lower than expected, costs are falling only slowly, and hydrogen fuel prices are higher than forecast.