Hyundai will develop new hydrogen eSTOL aircraft that can travel 620 miles

And they could enter service by 2030.
Brad Bergan
The Supernal, in a computer-generated graphic.Supernal

The automotive world is transforming to meet the needs of the future.

And Hyundai is vying for a stake in the new electric aviation wave, having laid the groundwork for its eVTOL subsidiary — Supernal — late in 2021, in anticipation of its air taxi industrial arm.

But a recent presentation at the Vertical Flight Society's H2 Aero workshop reveals that Hyundai will also bring new hydrogen-based technology into the industry, according to an initial New Atlas report.

And, having tested its hydrogen fuel-cell capabilities on the 370-mile range Nexo EV, Hyundai is fully prepared for the development of the Supernal — next-gen hydrogen in aviation.

The firm's eVTOL should hit the market by 2028, and a regional electronic short-takeoff-and-landing (eSTOL) vehicle could become commercially available in 2030.

Hyundai's Supernal is the culmination of earlier hydrogen products

So far, Toyota and Hyundai/Kia have remained the primary hydrogen fuel cell stars in the advancing edge of automotive innovation. While most of the world is looking to batteries for implementation on passenger cars, South Korea and Japan have expressed a commitment to developing a "hydrogen economy" that goes beyond personal transport.

Get more updates on this story and more with The Blueprint, our daily newsletter: Sign up here for free.

Having developed, produced, and sold a trifle volume of fuel cell-electric cars — including the Mirai and the Nexo — both companies have a head start on the race to seize a significant stake in the aviation market of tomorrow.

And this is exactly what Hyundai has in mind with its forthcoming Supernal.

Supernal Flying
A graphic of hydrogen-powered vehicles flying and coasting across an urban bridge. Source: Supernal

Hyundai's aviation plans could fuel a new, clean mode of city transit

"We're here to stay, and we want to be a prominent player in the aviation market," said Yesh Premkumar, Hyundai's senior manager for the Supernal project, during the H2 Aero workshop in Long Beach last week, according to the report. "I don't think when you talk about aviation, the first name that comes to mind is Hyundai."

Most Popular

"So one of the primary focuses for us to be here today is to allow you all to understand that we are looking to partner in all the areas that we are good at," added Premkumar. "There are lots of things about aviation that we need to learn and understand, and a lot of folks in this room have that understanding. There are capabilities that we bring that we'd like to lend to the knowledge that exists here."

"So we want to foster that in bilateral partnerships as much as possible — all of it, from the aircraft, to the ecosystem, to the infrastructure, to operation, all the way down to city planning," added Premkumar, during his presentation. New detail about Supernal are already available, and it paints the inner-city eVTOL as a battery-supported air taxi that can move people from one to the other side of a city without contributing any negative gases or materials to the surrounding environment.

Supernal Vertipad
Another depiction of the Supernal, taking off or landing on a vertipad. Source: Supernal

Hyundai's eSTOL vehicle could travel more than 620 miles

"The eVTOLs are not designed for ranges greater than about 75 miles," explained Premkumar. "That's quite a long distance, there are no cities today that have a boundary level of 75 miles. We looked at multiple ways of solving the problem, and batteries popped out as the best solution for the short range."

Intra- (or inter-)city journeys will also be possible with Hyundai's future suite of hydrogen-based aviation vehicles, since it's building an electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) vehicle that could travel from 120 to 620 miles (or even farther). With multiple flight architectures designed to fit evolving transportation needs of growing urban centers, Hyundai is doing everything it can to lift itself into an indispensable position, in the coming decade.