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Episode 3: France and Korea, the outsiders

In the area of hydrogen mobility, France stands out as a world leader with its fleet of Parisian taxis. The 2018 Hydrogen Plan projects a massive conversion of light individual vehicles and buses. As regards Asia, Korean government intends to make the country a leading actor, with more than 500 hydrogen stations by 2030.

France: the first fleet of hydrogen taxis in the world

Unlike more advanced countries in the field of hydrogen mobility, France has never implemented long-term national government plans. In 1990, an initial program dedicated to cars was introduced at the initiative of public authorities and manufacturers. Between 2013 and 2017 another program "Horizon Hydrogen Energy" (H2E) coordinated by Air Liquide contributed to the emergence of the sector. Since 2014, "Hydrogen Mobility France" has, moreover, provided for the synchronized development of vehicles and stations. First of all, it is introducing captive fleets, in the image of Hype.

Launched in 2015 during COP21, by the startup STEP in partnership with Air Liquide, Hype is a fleet of hydrogen taxis operated in Paris and the Ile-de-France. It is the first in the world and currently boasts more than 100 vehicles and four stations. In order to accelerate its deployment, Air Liquide, Idex, STEP, Toyota and Kouros have invested in HysetCo, the first asset company dedicated to developing hydrogen mobility in the Paris region. Goal: to reach 600 taxis by the end 2020.

"This partnership embodies this shared desire to act together for a collective benefit. The increase in the fleet to 600 taxis will contribute to improving the quality of the air in our capital by the end of 2020. With this ambitious project, technology is in line with ecology and the new economy. All of this to reinvent the taxi, a major mobility profession," commented Pierre-Étienne Franc, Vice-president of Hydrogène Energie of Air Liquide at the launch in February 2019.

To go beyond this first captive fleet, France announced its new ambitions in 2018 via its Hydrogen deployment plan for the energy transition: 500 light vehicles, 200 heavy vehicles and 100 stations by 2023. And by 2028, 20 to 50,000 light vehicles, 800 to 2000 heavy vehicles and 400 to 1000 stations. A year after announcing the Plan, eleven projects have been selected to implement these ambitions and will receive financial backing. These projects focus on establishing captive fleets of hydrogen vehicles: cars, buses (including a "1000 buses plan"), light or heavy utility vehicles, and garbage trucks. The installation of hydrogen distribution stations and gas production infrastructure in the regions is also part of the equation.

Korea: a newcomer with big ambitions

In January 2019, Moon Jae-in, the President of Korea, reaffirmed the country's hydrogen mobility ambitions: 80,000 vehicles by 2022 and 1.8 million in 2023. A necessary transition for this small country; the fifth largest consumer of energy in the world, more than 95% of which is imported. Besides energy independence and the urgency of the fight against fine particles which invade cities, the government intends to develop a new economy. It should allow the creation of 200,000 new jobs by 2030. It also wants the country to become the world leader in hydrogen cars.

The financial means are also significant. The country plans to invest €2 billion to encourage the emergence of public-private partnerships with a goal of 310 stations by 2022 and 500 by 2030. Air Liquide is involved in the operational implementation of this plan with the installation of four new stations in the country. The government also knows how to win over consumers with very incentivizing aid: The State will cover half of the purchase cost of a hydrogen vehicle. And refueling is free (for now).

The manufacturer Hyundai has also staked a lot on hydrogen vehicles, with an investment plan of €6 billion over ten years to be able to produce 500,000 vehicles per year in 2030. In 2018, it opened a second plant to manufacture fuel cell systems. Its annual production is 3000 units. It is aiming for 40,000 in 2022 and 70,000 in 2030, that's more than the number of vehicles produced. Goal: to sell its engines to other manufacturers.

Korea's ambitions are also focused on buses: the first one went into circulation at the end of 2018 in Uslan and 1000 will be on the road by 2022 in several of the country's cities. Thirteen companies, including Hyundai and Air Liquide, have also formed a company, HyNet, with a view to implementing 100 dedicated stations before the end of 2022.

Article published on September 30, 2019