Earlier this week, Hyundai announced it would be bringing a new production fuel cell vehicle to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (CES 2018), and now it has revealed its name.
The 2019 Hyundai Nexo SUV is the successor to the ix35 FCEV, and is the first in a line of 18 new eco-friendly models to be introduced by 2025.
What is a fuel cell vehicle (FCEV)?
Put simply, a fuel cell electric vehicle uses hydrogen to create electricity to power the car.
However, instead of burning the hydrogen, which is highly combustive (remember the Hindenburg, anyone?), it uses a cathode and an anode (much like a battery) to create a chemical reaction in which the hydrogen fuses with oxygen to create water.
When it does this, electricity is released, which is then used to power the electric motors.
Water is the byproduct, which is then released as exhaust – no emissions at all.
The Hyundai Nexo in detail
Hyundai says the Nexo is its technological flagship for its eco vehicle range, with a declaration that the company will have the most diverse powertrain offering of any crossover lineup.
That’s a bold claim, but with petrols, diesels, EV, PHEV and fuel-cell vehicles, it’s going to be hard to top.
The Nexo itself is built on its own architecture, according to Hyundai, which differs from reports that it used the Tuscon platform.
This allows a rethink of the SUV’s design, liberating more room, making it lighter and also safer.
The car has been tested to withstand temperatures of -28 degrees C as well as hot weather driving in 49 degrees C extremes.
Because the fuel cell has to warm up to an operating temperature, it has been a very slow process to get them going. The Nexo reduces that time to just 30 seconds.
What’s the Nexo’s range?
This is the big question on everyone’s minds.
Hyundai says the Nexo is capable of 800km from a single tank of hydrogen. That figure, though, is based on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).
Real world use will most likely see it cover 600km.
The Nexo gets a 95kW hydrogen fuel-cell, which then creates electricity for the 40kW battery pack. This sends power to the 120kW electric motor, which gets the car going.
Sounds like a convoluted process, but there’s a combined 135kW and 395Nm, which will get it from zero to 100km/h in 9.5 seconds.
Refuelling is a lot quicker than recharging – Hyundai says it’ll take around five minutes to completely refill the hydrogen tank.
And with no engine, Hyundai says that maintenance and servicing will be cheaper than a normal ICE vehicle.
Driver assistance systems
Like Honda’s lane-watch camera which activates when you indicate to the left, the Nexo also gets wide angle cameras for seeing down the side of the vehicle.
However, the big difference is, it works on both sides, not just one. The video image is displayed on the infotainment screen. Hyundai calls it “Blind-spot View Monitor (BVM)”.
Also, the Nexo gets Lane Following Assist (LFA) and Highway Driving Assist (HDA).
These systems act has lane departure avoidance, and keep the Nexo centred in the lane at speeds between zero and 145km/h.
The company says it works on both highways and city streets, with the HDA system active, the mapping data will relay speed limit changes to the vehicle, to automatically adjust while driving.
There’s also Remote Smart Parking Assist (RSPA), which allows the Nexo to park itself, or get itself out of a parking spot autonomously. James Bond tech, right there.
According to Motoring.com.au, the Australian Capital Territory government placed the first 20 orders for the Nexo anywhere in the world.
To support the new hydrogen vehicle, a hydrogen fuelling station will be set up at the Hornsdale Windfarm project to be built soon.
When will it go on sale?
The first market will be Korea, with the Nexo being offered to buyers in March.
“Hydrogen energy is the key to building a more sustainable society. Hyundai Motor Company has already taken a lead in hydrogen technology with introduction of ix35 fuel cell,” said Dr. Woong-chul Yang, Vice Chairman, Hyundai Motor Company. “Yet as another result of this earth-saving effort, today, I am so proud to introduce to you our second-generation Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle which is a culmination of our cutting-edge technologies.”
0 to 100km/h
(All NEXO specification and technologies mentioned above may vary according markets)