Introduced in January 2018, the Hyundai Nexo was the Hyundai Motor Group’s technological marvel last decade. While HMG is planning a big wave of BEVs with the E-GMP platform, starting with the Ioniq 5, Kia EV6 & Genesis GV60, it is not losing focus of its standalone FCEV. The company plans a massive upgrade for the Hyundai Nexo, which as per an estimate, took 70 percent of the global FCEV market in 2020.
In October 2020, South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited the Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) Ulsan plant and interacted on the Hyundai Nexo with company officials. When he asked about the Nexo’s range while touring the production line that builds the powertrain, a company official said that the hydrogen fuel cell electric crossover has three hydrogen tanks and can drive 609 km (378 miles) in one go.
Adding to the employee’s response, Euisun Chung, Chairman, HMG, told the President that the company plans to increase the range of the Nexo remarkably. Below were exactly his words:
I plan to increase it (Hyundai Nexo range) to 800 km (497 miles) in the future.Euisun Chung, Chairman, Hyundai Motor Group, talking to South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the production line of the Hyundai Nexo.
HMG has sold well over 10,000 units of the Hyundai Nexo in South Korea since its launch in March 2018. South Korea is slowly taking to hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and autonomous driving technologies. On that, the country’s President said:
By establishing a roadmap for the hydrogen economy and a vision and strategy for future cars, we are moving toward a country with the highest competitiveness in future cars in 2030.Moon Jae-in, President, South Korea
Providing a circa-500-mile range in the new Hyundai Nexo HMG would make a big statement to the world that hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles are undoubtedly the future beyond battery electric vehicles. Increasing the Hyundai Nexo range from 378 miles to close 497 miles, which would be almost 500 miles, would mark a whopping 31% improvement.
Though Hyundai Motor Company’s product roadmap unveiled to investors did not mention a new Nexo, a report from etnews.com said there would be a new model next year. We reckon HMG would bring upgrades during this lifecycle activity, and eventually, the 500-mile Hyundai Nexo would be a reality.
V2L coming to the Hyundai Nexo
The ETNews report claims that the new Nexo arriving in 2022 will feature V2L (Vehicle to Load) function. Hyundai Mobis, Hyundai Motor Group’s in-house parts company, has developed this technology, as per the report. “In order to secure advanced technology, we have also secured charging technology using hydrogen fuel cells,” a Hyundai Mobis official said.
V2L allows supplying the power of the vehicle’s energy source (hydrogen fuel cell in this case) to an external device, like a home appliance, for instance. It can be instrumental during disasters and emergencies when there’s a power cut. Toyota offers this feature in its hydrogen FCEV Mirai, launched in an all-new avatar (second generation) in Japan in December last year.
In the U.S., EPA estimates that the Hyundai Nexo has a range of up to 380 miles. The hydrogen SUV has a tank capacity of 41.4 gallons. A compact 1.56 kWh Lithium-ion battery supplies during acceleration and also stores the electricity generated by the regenerative braking system. Using the electricity from the fuel cell stack and the battery, the motor spins the wheels.
500-mile FCEVs are a reality today. In Japan, the 2021 Toyota Mirai FCEV can travel approximately 850 km (WLTC) on a full tank, which converts to 528 miles.
In December 2020, Hyundai Motor Group launched a new hydrogen fuel cell system brand called HTWO. The company said that it is developing a next-gen hydrogen fuel cell system with plans to apply it in Urban Air Mobility (UAM) vehicles, automobiles, vessels, and trains under the new brand. The new system will deliver enhanced performance and durability at an affordable price in a lighter architecture with enhanced energy density.
It is safe to assume that the next-gen Hyundai Nexo will get this newly developed powertrain. In the automobile sector, affordability and hydrogen refueling infrastructure will be crucial for the mass-level adoption of FCEVs.
Hyundai Nexo N variant now a realistic possibility
Hyundai has indicated that hydrogen-powered cars could have an N high-performance variant. This might become possible in the next-gen Nexo, which could be about three years away. Speaking at the Hyundai N Day on April 28, Thomas Schemera, Executive Vice President, Head of Customer Experience Division, Hyundai, said:
Ever since we presented the hydrogen-powered N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo concept, sustainable driving fun has been N’s way of realizing Hyundai’s vision of “Progress for Humanity.” Now it’s time to make that vision become reality, no matter whether it’s battery electric or fuel cell electric or even more interestingly, a combination of both!Thomas Schemera, Executive Vice President, Head of Customer Experience Division, Hyundai (Hyundai N Day 2021)
Hyundai N hydrogen-electric hybrid
Thomas Schemera, Executive Vice President and Head of Customer Experience Division, Hyundai, talked about possible alternative energy powertrains for future Hyundai N models with other company executives at the Hyundai Elantra N world premiere on July 14, 2021.
“Hydrogen, I guess, is a very interesting thing to combine and to find the right idea in the future to come,” Schemera said. In response, Albert Biermann, President and Head of R&D Division, Hyundai/Kia, said:
Maybe you remember our MECA proto car with the fuel cell in the front and high-power PE battery-electric system in the rear. With our modular fuel-cell system? We can make a nice package, I think.Albert Biermann, President and Head of R&D Division, Hyundai/Kia
Hyundai could develop its hydrogen-electric powertrain through motorsports. “We have hydrogen technology, and I think the combination, hydrogen and battery electric, E-GMP, that is a very sustainable and enjoyable N driving even in endurance racing. Let’s go for it,” Biermann said. “Way to go. Let’s make it happen,” Till Wartenberg, Vice President and Head of N Brand Management & Motorsport Sub-division, Hyundai, responded.
Hyundai Nexo Robo-taxi
Hyundai is developing a robotaxi on the basis of the Nexo hydrogen fuel-cell SUV, The Korea Herald reported on June 10, 2021. The company aims to put the Nexo robotaxi into service by 2023.
A Hyundai official has revealed that the company is currently designing the hydrogen fuel-cell self-driving taxi. “The exterior currently has cameras and sensors protruding from it, so we’re working on it. The model will be ready for mass production in one to two years,” the official said.
In the U.S., Hyundai plans to make an Ioniq 5 robotaxi for the local market. Motional, a joint venture of Aptiv and Hyundai, announced on March 2021 that it would offer a modified Ioniq 5 with Level 4 autonomous driving as a robotaxi. Motional plans to provide its first robotaxi through the Lyft app from 2023.
Featured image: Hyundai