South Korea’s hydrogen-powered FCEV exports plunge 74.2 percent in first five months of 2024

Last month, the country's exports of hydrogen-powered FCEVs dropped to zero
South Korea’s hydrogen-powered FCEV exports plunge 74.2 percent in first five months of 2024
Korea's hydrogen FCEV exports plummet from 233 to 60 units in early 2024.

Exports of hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in South Korea plunged more than 70 percent year-over-year during the first five months of 2024, according to a new report.

Data from the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association shows that the number of FCEVs shipped overseas from January to May 2024 reached only 60 units, a 74.2 percent decline from 233 units in the same period in 2023. In fact, last month, South Korea’s FCEV exports dropped to zero.

State news agency Yonhap News Agency revealed that the downturn in FCEV exports was also seen in Germany, Europe’s largest FCEV market, raising serious questions about whether South Korea will be able to meet its goal of having 300,000 hydrogen vehicles on the road by 2030. The country currently has just over 34,000 FCEVs.

South Korea’s hydrogen ambitions

South Korea has the world’s biggest FCEV market outside of China and is one of the most enthusiastic proponents of hydrogen, largely due to its limited land for renewable energy projects. However, a lack of hydrogen refueling infrastructure and rising fuel costs have been blamed for the declining FCEV sales in the country.

BEV dominance over FCEVs

In contrast, registrations of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in South Korea only fell by 2.8 percent in 2023, with a total of 154,045 BEVs added to the country’s fleet. This is 33 times higher than the number of new FCEVs registered. At the end of 2023, there were 543,900 BEVs on South Korean roads, almost 16 times more than the 34,258 FCEVs.

EVs South Korea

Battery trucks overtaking hydrogen trucks

While proponents argue that hydrogen will be the fuel of choice for freight trucks due to their longer ranges and faster refueling times, battery-powered trucks have flourished in South Korea, with almost 125,000 now on the road, compared to just 16 hydrogen trucks.

Read more: Affordable Tesla EVs coming in 2025

Registrations vs. sales

The term “registrations” is often used interchangeably with “sales,” but this is not entirely accurate. Dealers sometimes register unsold vehicles, listing themselves as the owners, to boost sales figures before eventually selling them at a discount. Leased vehicles also have to be registered.

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