By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, May 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co. slipped to second place in the fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) market in the first quarter as Japanese rival Toyota clinched the top rank with the release of a new model, industry data showed Tuesday.
Global FCEV sales jumped 89.2 percent on-year to hit a record of nearly 4,000 units in the January-March period, mostly driven by strong sales of Toyota's second-generation Mirai model, according to the data by SNE Research.
Toyota sold about 2,000 FCEVs in the first three months of this year, up from 300 units a year earlier, accounting for 49 percent of its market share, data showed.
Hyundai Motor, the maker of Nexo, saw its sales jump 29.5 percent on-year in the first quarter to about 1,800 units, taking up a 44.6 percent share.
Japanese automaker Honda came in a distant third place with a mere 2.3 percent share.
With the FCEV market still at a nascent stage with a lack of competitive models and charging infrastructure, market watchers expect tougher competition between Hyundai and Toyota, which represent a combined market share of over 90 percent.
"Competition between the two companies intensified, and it is foreseen that Toyota has an upper hand and will continue to lead the market with its flagship model," SNE Research said in a report. "Accordingly, attention is paid on Hyundai Motor's countermeasures before it comes up with the second-generation Nexo model in 2023."
An FCEV is an eco-friendly vehicle that only emits water vapor as it converts stored hydrogen into electricity, which turns the vehicle's motor.
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