Kez Casey | Jan 24, 2016

Kia Australia’s General Manager Damien Meredith has revealed to TMR that fuel cell technology is his preferred platform for a green halo car.

Citing the Hyundai Motor Group’s strength in the fuel cell field (Kia is a part of HMG), Mr Meredith sees a change in buyer patterns, helped along by changes in government legislation as vital to the alternative fuel’s success.

“I think every automotive organisation in the world is obliged environmentally to do something, and we are, and secondly I think that as government legislation tightens over a five-to-ten year period, I think you’ll see these cars becoming more and more popular, and more market acceptable,” Mr Meredith said.

Asked which technology Kia Australia would most like to bring to market, hybrid, electric, or fuel cell, Mr Meredith pointed to hydrogen fuel cells as the preferred option.

“My wish would be fuel cell technology because I believe that the Group are well advanced in that area. Mr Meredith explained.

“It’s a bit like the VHS - Beta argument at the moment. That’s probably a step away, or two steps away, but that would be my preference.”

Currently there is no federal or state government assistance for buyers of green vehicles, if that situation were to change, more automakers (including Toyota, with its hydrogen fuelled Mirai) would look at bringing zero emissions vehicles here.

Kia Optima EcoHybrid
Kia Optima EcoHybrid

Kia, in its drive to be viewed as an industry leader, is far more ambitious about a fuel cell vehicle’s chances of making it here. When asked if government assistance was an essential step to introducing the technology, Mr Meredith had this to say:

“We’ll continue to look at the options. Sometimes it’s good to follow, and sometimes it’s good to be ahead of the curve, we’re certainly looking at every opportunity of what we can do in those areas.”

“I think that we would look really seriously at it. As we build our credentials in Australia with the brand you’ve got to look at those things, so consumers say ‘Kia is at the head of the pack in regards to technology with environmentally driven vehicles’ we’ve got to look at that very, very seriously.”

But that doesn’t mean a fuel cell Kia is just around the corner. While HMG has been working on hydrogen fuel cells for some time (the most recent example being the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Fell demonstrated in Australia last year) the fully-fledged adoption of the technology is still some way off.

A refuelling infrastructure would be vital to the vehicle’s success, and just like Tesla’s Supercharger network, hydrogen’s widespread adoption can only grow as fast as a refuelling network will allow.

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