Milestones

Hyundai's Hydrogen-powered vehicles have been around long enough to buy beer

It's been over 21 years since Hyundai began working on hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

The year was 1998. America was learning the lurid details of President Clinton's sex life in the Oval Office and Viagara was approved. Mark Maguire and Sammy Sosa battled for the single-season home run record and captivated the country. Later that year, John Glenn would return to space.

That's the same year that Hyundai Motor Group began developing Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) technology, establishing a dedicated research team. The project, in collaboration with United Technologies Corporation (UTC) was dubbed "Project Mercury" (whether of not that is because of John Glenn's affiliation with the Mercury Seven or just a coincidence has yet to be confirmed).

How Fuel Cell Vehicles Work | Nexo | Hyundai www.youtube.com

That project developed a number of vehicles of increasing capability until it ended with the Mercury II, which was developed on the JM Tucson platform with an 80 kW fuel cell system, 337 km range and the ability to start from temperatures as low as -20°C.

Polaris

In conjunction with the Korean Government's G7 Project, which recognized a need for Korea to develop scientific and technological intellectual property of its own lessening its reliance on other countries and establishing itself as an authority, Hyundai launched the Polaris project. That project led Hyundai to independently develop complete fuel cell systems. The Polaris II had an an output of 80 kW and a range of 370 km.

Hydrogen transportation at the 2006 World Cup

Hyundai hydrogen bus

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

In 2005, Hyundai had developed its first fuel cell bus with a 160 kW fuel cell system and an operating range of 380 km. The company used the bus to transport attendees of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. This marked the first time a Hyundai bus was certified for use on European roads.

2007 Tucson FCEV

Hyundai Tucson FCEV

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

Years before it started in on FCEV tech, Hyundai started in-house electric vehicle (EV) research. The 2007 Tucson FCEV (shown above) unified the efforts of both teams delivering an output of 100 kW and a range of 370 km. Two years later, the second generation of the fuel cell bus was introduced, offering 200 kW of power and a range of 380 km.

Eighteen years after the project began, it hit a significant milestone. The accumulative distance covered by all Hyundai FCEVs in hit the two million km mark in 2010. That same year, the ix35 FCEV prototype was launched. Notably, the concept car used a 100 kW fuel cell system and 700 bar storage to produce a NEDC-certified 594 km range.

Hyundai Intrado

Hyundai Intrado Concept Car Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Intrado concept (shown above) debuted at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show showing how FCEVs could be used and adapted using advanced materials like high-strength steel and carbon fiber. It also showed off the evolved power of fuel cell technology offering a hybrid lithium-ion 36 kW battery, with a range of over 600 km.

One year later, Hyundai was selling ix35 fuel cells globally, including in the U.K. where 17 customers began driving FCEVs for daily use.

Hyundai FE Fuel Cell

Hyundai FE Fuel Cell Concept Car SUV Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

By 2017 the FE Fuel Cell concept (shown above) was making its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. It was longer, lower, and wider than the ix35. It also featured new drivetrain technology including a fuel cell stack that was 20 percent lighter than its predecessor, but delivers 30 percent more range, bumping that number to over 800 km.

Welcome, Nexo

2018 Hyundai Nexo

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

In 2018, Hyundai launched Nexo, the world's first production fuel cell SUV. In comparison to the ix35 Fuel Cell, Nexo offers a 25 percent faster acceleration rate, increased torque and 40 percent more range. Its 135 kW powertrain and three reinforced carbon fiber/plastic fuel tanks allow Nexo to deliver a range of 665 km.

Fuel Cell Vision 2030 was announced following the launch of Nexo, upping the company's commitment to hydrogen. Hyundai Motor Group has committed to boost annual fuel-cell system production capacity to 700,000 units by 2030 and explore opportunities to expand the possible usage of fuel cells, including in industrial settings.

Rimac investment

In May 2019, the Hyundai Motor Group announced an investment of €80 million in Rimac, the high-performance electric car company perhaps best known stateside as producing the Concept One car that "The Grand Tour" presenter Richard Hammond crashed and nearly died in. With this move, Hyundai joined Porsche, has a 15.5 percent stake in the company, in betting on the future.

Together, Hyundai and Rimac have been working closely together to develop prototypes for both an electric version of Hyundai's N brand mid-ship sports car and a high-performance fuel cell electric vehicle with the intent to bring them to market.

Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility

Last September, Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility, a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Company and H2 Energy, was born. The duo teamed up with Hydrospider, a venture to promote a green hydrogen ecosystem in Switzerland and other European countries. As part of this partnership, Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility plans to bring 1,600 Hyundai H2 Xcient Fuel Cell Electric Trucks to market. The truck features a new 190 kW hydrogen fuel cell system with two 95 kW fuel cell stacks connected in parallel. It delivers a single-fueling travel range of more than 400 km, with a fuel storage capacity of almost 35 kg of hydrogen.

Hyundai Generator

Hyundai showed that vehicles aren't the only application for fuel cell stacks, previewing the Hyundai Generator, a portable charging station for electric vehicles, at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Hyundai Generator consists of two fuel cell stacks and combined hydrogen storage, giving the ability to charge two EVs simultaneously at high speed. Hyundai will be providing the Hyundai Generator as a recharging system for all the cars that are part of the eTCR (Electric Touring Car Racing) championship.

Hyundai and Audi

Hyundai isn't keeping all the FCEV tech to itself. They have recently partnered with Audi, which has allowed the manufacturers to share fuel cell technology developments with each other.

Trending News

Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai Motor Group, the parent company of Hyundai, has announced the formation of a new unit - New Horizons Studio. The new venture is focused on the development of what Hyundai calls Ultimate Mobility Vehicles (UMVs).

New Horizons Studio is part of Hyundai's larger focus on the future of mobility. Unit workers will work to envision vehicles that wander with "unprecedented mobility". These products will focus on target customers that have unconventional travel needs whether it be to access places they have never been or adapt their mobility limitations to their surroundings.

Hyundai 'Elevate' Walking Car Concept

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

New Horizons Studio is led by Vice President Dr. John Suh, who has held several leadership roles at Hyundai Motor Group since 2011. He served as founding director of Hyundai Ventures, and then led Hyundai CRADLE (Center for Robotic-Augmented Design in Living Experiences) as its founding director based in Silicon Valley. He brings over 35 years of expertise in the automotive and emerging technology sectors, including roles at Stanford University, Palo Alto Research Center (PARC; formerly, Xerox PARC), and General Motors Company.

"We aim to create the world's first transformer-class vehicle, also known as the Ultimate Mobility Vehicle," said Dr. Suh.

Dr. Ernestine Fu will move to New Horizons Studio as Director of Product Management. She has led research on human operator and autonomous vehicle interactions at Stanford University's Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab, as well as scaled emerging technology companies for over nine years as a venture capital partner at Alsop Louie Partners.

The Hyundai Elevate is the first vehicle being developed by the Studio. It debuted at CES 2019 and does not rely solely on wheels to makes it way across urban, suburban, and rural landscapes. The unit sees the Elevate as being able to respond in emergency situations like natural disasters or assist with persons who do not have access to an ADA ramp.

Trending News

 
 

The front of the concept is very EV in its design.

Photo courtesy of Honda

The Honda SUV e:concept debuted in China this week signaling what's ahead for a future mass-production model of the Honda brand's first electric vehicle to be introduced in China. While what's sold in China doesn't always make it to American shores, there are a few things to be learned by taking a closer look at the concept.

We know that the vehicle's powertrain is electric. How many motors? What type of battery? How much power? In a nutshell, we have no idea. However, that could be where Honda's relationship with General Motors kicks in. A recent agreement to share platforms and co-build future vehicles builds on the electric vehicle platform sharing agreement the two automakers signed in April. In the first agreement agreement, Honda agreed to work with GM to develop two new electric vehicles based on GM's global EV platform powered by Ultium batteries.

Honda SUV e:concept The sloping roofline of the concept is indicative of another Honda model.Photo courtesy of Honda

The concept's sweeping looks are more crossover than SUV. While there's plenty of doubt that the model will be a two-door vehicle when it arrives in showrooms, its overall aesthetic is new for Honda, though it has hints of the current-generation CR-V and Accord in its nose.

The roofline of the SUV and side profile look a lot like the 2020 Honda Avancier, a true crossover that got its start as a station wagon and now sits as the company's flagship in China. If indeed this model is an electric Avancier, it means that the U.S. market is unlikely to see it.

From a business perspective, this makes sense. Electric vehicles are not nearly as popular in the U.S. as they are in China and Europe, where they have been regulated into residents' lifestyles. Additionally, the U.S. electric vehicle charging infrastructure leaves much to be desired.

2020 Honda Avancier

Photo courtesy of Honda

Cars built for the Chinese market also do not have to meet the same strict safety testing standards as American vehicles so they can be made for less and sold for less. Upping to U.S. standards costs more and, when shipping and taxes are added in, the model may be priced out of sensibility for American Honda customers.

Wherever it's destined to go, the Honda will be a mass-production electric vehicle.

The company is committed to equipping the car with a number of safety technologies including omnidirectional advanced driver assistance systems, the next-generation Honda SENSING safety and driver-assistive system with improved recognition, predication and decision-making performance, as well as the next-generation Honda Connect, which features an AI assistant interface, smartphone link, and wireless updates.

Honda SUV e:concept The model features a unique black end with slim lights.Photo courtesy of Honda

Expect to see the next steps in the evolution of this concept in the coming year, even if it's just in spy photos.

Trending News