Nobody can avoid decarbonisation today, knows Philippe Köppel, CEO of GK Grünenfelder. This week, the vehicle manufacturer from Kriessern received a certificate for its unique body systems, which were specially designed for Hyundai’s hydrogen truck. But with this, the journey into the post-fossil future of mobility has only just begun.
What has long been proven on the road and under strict testing conditions is now also officially confirmed on paper: GK Grünenfelder is a certified body manufacturer of the Hyundai Xcient Fuel Cell Truck. The certificate was presented by Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility (HHM), the joint venture of the Swiss company H2 Energy and Hyundai Motor Company. The Kriessern-based vehicle manufacturer has already been working as a partner for the body systems of the South Korean car manufacturer’s hydrogen-powered trucks since 2019. “It makes us proud that our body is an essential part of this technology and has proven itself for customers. We are convinced that no one can avoid decarbonisation today,” says CEO Philippe Köppel. “This makes the efforts of HHM and the other players in the mobility system all the more important.”
“We are already creating the transport solutions of tomorrow”.
It all started in 2019, when GK Grünenfelder developed the first refrigerated box body with refrigeration system for Hyundai, which was then assembled by a GK Grünenfelder assembly team for test purposes in Korea. In spring 2020, another superstructure followed on a Xient Fuell Cell Truck for test drives in Switzerland. A few months later, the handover of the first series production of ten hydrogen trucks to various Swiss logistics companies was celebrated. In the meantime, 46 of the clean trucks with the GK logo are already rolling along the roads. In total, the Hyundai hydrogen fleet has already covered more than one million kilometres – completely emission-free, of course.
Proud owners of the Hyundai certificate: Division Manager Refrigerated Vehicles Patrick Pfanner, CEO Philippe Köppel and Project Manager H2 Vehicles Boro Jovic.
In order to receive the certification, the GK body systems had to withstand strict load-bearing tests and the employees were also specially trained to be able to work with the highly fragile hydrogen and high-voltage system of the hydrogen trucks. With this certificate, GK Grünenfelder is authorised to produce both refrigerated cases for food transport and dry freight cases for general cargo transport. Customers can choose from a wide range of configuration options. “There is no general standard in our engineering and production department. That’s why we can react flexibly to all customer requests,” says Köppel. Whether sliding side doors, a rear opening with roller shutter or special cold retention systems – the customer decides individually which features his body should have.
But the journey into a decarbonised future has only just begun. Next year, GK plans to build its body systems on the facelifted two-axle and the new three-axle Hyundai trucks. The latter has a higher total weight and thus a greater payload for the customers. For Philippe Köppel and his team, one thing is certain: “Standing still is never an option. That’s why we are already helping our customers to create the transport solutions of tomorrow.”