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Why Kia is well positioned for hydrogen cars even though it's focusing on EVs in the short term

We've seen big investment by Kia's parent company when it comes to hydrogen - but when will we see the brand's first FCEV?

Kia Australia’s biggest launch next year will without a doubt be its EV6 electric SUV, as the brand makes its biggest stride yet into its electrified future, but will hydrogen – which has big potential in the Australian market – be a part of the brand’s model mix?

Speaking to CarsGuide at the launch of the Sorento PHEV, the brand’s product planning boss, Roland Rivero, explained that Kia has room to move on hydrogen when the time comes.

“At Hyundai Group, [hydrogen] is first being looked at on the Hyundai side. Namyang [the peak R&D facility in Korea] has no bias in the Hyundai vs Kia argument, fuel cell is being developed for the whole group,” he said.

“What [Kia Australia] has been told is if there’s demand for FCEVs in our market, it’s relatively easy to turn it around.

“Right now, we’re going down the electric path, but it’s simple to convert if need be. It may open more opportunities in the future.”

This helps to explain that while Kia’s sister brand has been leaning into hydrogen with its Nexo mid-size SUV FCEV and its Xcient truck in Europe, little has been seen from Kia on the hydrogen front.

This does look set to change in the future, though, with Hyundai Group’s recent hydrogen announcements being accompanied by a Kia-branded hydrogen emergency pick-up truck concept dubbed the RHGV, and a teaser of a hydrogen-powered sports car concept dubbed the 'Vision FK' developed with Rimac, which looks suspiciously like a Kia Stinger in profile and design.

The Vision FK concept seems suspiciously close to the Kia Stinger in design. The Vision FK concept seems suspiciously close to the Kia Stinger in design.

In even more recent news, Hyundai Group’s parts division, Hyundai Mobis, has opened two new facilities in Korea which will construct the brand’s pair of next-generation hydrogen stacks in 100kW and 200kW forms. The facilities have an annual capacity of over 100,000 units, more than quadruple the amount of fuel-cell stacks which have been constructed by the brand in the years since the Nexo’s launch in 2018.

Locally, Queensland is set to become the site of “the world’s largest green hydrogen manufacturing facility” thanks to a new project by Fortescue Future Industries, said to cost $1 billion.

Jemena and Coregas are also working on a hydrogen hub and refueling station in Western Sydney. The ACT is already home to an ActewAGL hydrogen refueling station, and the government runs a fleet of 20 Nexos as part of a trial.

In Victoria, Toyota also helps run a hydrogen refueling station and offers its Mirai sedan FCEV to business fleets on a trial basis.

Next year will see the reveal of Hyundai’s second-generation Nexo, and the brand has talked about the opportunity hydrogen presents for its long-rumoured dual-cab pick-up, both from the Kia and Hyundai camps.