Sure enough, just as it was teased, Hyundai took the wraps off their newest hydrogen-powered vehicle at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. We’ve seen this Tuscon-esque crossover before, except here its darn close to production-spec and, to prove it, finally has a real name attached to it: Nexo. Indeed, a Tuscon FCEV was officially their first, though limitedly available, attempt.
With all Hyundai’s high profile efforts over the past few years into hydrogen fuel cell technology, they were bound to introduce a product that’s actually available for customers to own, joining the likes of the Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity. BMW now remains the only major automaker and proponent of the technology as the holy grail of energy solutions who haven’t yet offered a production FCEV. Well, them, and Mercedes-Benz.
Hyundai have taken a couple of stabs at the car that would be the Nexo before, presenting it at motor shows the iterative versions of the its forebears, each a functioning example and with a sizeable list of improvements - usually powertrain related, of course. In hindsight, their decision to build an FCEV into a crossover seems inspired.
The Nexo’s architecture, while similar in size to their current crop of small SUVs, is entirely bespoke and meant to foster the development of other FCEVs down the line. This allowed the automaker to better optimise the space within to store as much hydrogen as possible while allowing it to also be lighter and more structurally rigid.
According to the numbers given by Hyundai, estimates for range stand at approximately 600km before needing to be refilled. Of course, because the energy comes from hydrogen instead of raw electricity stored in batteries, the gaining another 600km or so of zero emissions longevity takes just a few minutes.
Like all FCEVs, the electricity used for propulsion is generated on the Nexo itself, and can even theoretically be used to power your home for the night once you’ve parked up. Despite being driven by an electric motor, Hyundai’s decision to only include a 120kW motor most definitely deliberate. It won’t out accelerate muscle cars, but there is plenty of torque at 395Nm, and its performance should be well in line with any mass market modern day crossover. It takes 9.5 seconds to reach 100km/h from rest.
Hyundai is shooting for the Nexo to be available for sale within the first half of this year, though it will be relegated to selected markets such as the United States, where in California there already quite a number of hydrogen refill stations in most metropolitan areas.
“Hydrogen energy is the key to building a more sustainable society. Hyundai Motor Company has already taken a lead in hydrogen technology with the introduction of the ix35 Fuel Cell,” said Dr. Woong-chul Yang, Vice Chairman, Hyundai Motor Company. “I am so proud to introduce to you our second-generation Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle which is a culmination of our cutting-edge technologies.”