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.

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The iX M60 will hit dealers' lots in June 2022.

BMW

BMW's electric vehicle catalog is growing rapidly as the automaker rolls out new electrified cars and SUVs. The latest is the iX M60, a red-hot five-seat SUV with sleek styling and a spectacular list of standard features. BMW announced the new SUV this week, along with pricing and release date details.

The iX M60 is BMW's first performance-oriented electric SUV, though BMW calls it a sports activity vehicle, or SAV. Its powertrain has been massaged to produce up to 610 horsepower and 811 pound-feet of torque. Maximum power delivery is limited to times when the vehicle's launch control is activated, but even the "normal" numbers are impressive: In regular driving situations, the iX puts down 532 horsepower and 749 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration to 60 mph takes 3.6 seconds and the iX M60 can go on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph.

2023 BMW iX M60 Though extremely sporty, BMW doesn't shy away from using loads of luxurious finishes and materials. BMW

The iX brings more than performance, as its charging capabilities are quite strong. Using AC power, the vehicle can charge from 0-100 percent in 10.25 hours on its fastest setting. Using its fastest DC power setting, the iX can charge from 10 to 80% in just 35 minutes.

Two electric motors power the SUV, which provide standard all-wheel drive. Dual-axle air suspension is standard, along with electronically-controlled shock absorbers. BMW says that the air suspension is controlled individually at each wheel, so the vehicle can adjust ride height in several ways to maintain stability and remain level in corners.

2023 BMW iX M60 The vehicle can run from 0-60 mph in under four seconds and features standard AWD.BMW

When it goes on sale in June, 2022, the 2023 BMW iX M60 will have a starting price of $106,095, which includes a $995 destination charge. That's a flagship price tag, but the SUV's got the performance and a flagship-level list of standard features. That six-figure dollar amount buys 21-inch wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, wireless phone charging, AC fast charging, a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, a Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System, four-zone automatic climate controls, and more.

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The EQXX Concept features a crazy driving range.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz is putting its century-plus of automotive experience into building electric cars, and the results are impressive. The EQS is an electric flagship with great range, and the automaker has unveiled several concepts to show its future plans. The Vision EQXX concept debuted today as an ultra-efficient luxury EV with astonishing range numbers.

Mercedes-Benz EQXX Concept Mercedes focused on efficiency over power with the car. Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes' focus with the EQXX is efficiency over power, as it says the car is its most efficient it has ever made. The EQXX uses less than 10 kWh per 100 kilometers (around 62 miles), which equates to 620 miles on a single charge. The battery was designed with tech and knowledge from Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team, especially when it comes to size and weight. The EQXX's battery pack is 50 percent smaller by volume and 30 percent lighter than the pack in the EQS, which already featured astonishing efficiency.

The car's impressive range comes at the expense of horsepower, which in this case means just 201 ponies from the EQXX's electric drivetrain. Mercedes says that the system is capable of delivering up to 95 percent energy efficiency - an impressive figure for power delivery to the wheels. Extremely efficient gas powertrains only achieve around 30 percent efficiency and a human long-distance runner can hit around 50 percent.

Mercedes-Benz EQXX Concept The EQXX is impressively slippery, which improves its range.

The EQXX is a slippery car, too, and with a drag coefficient of just 0.17, the car cuts through the air with ease. The typical EV uses up to two-thirds of its battery capacity just to push through the air, so the EQXX's aerodynamics is a big part of its efficiency. The other big part is Mercedes' thermal management system, which uses shutters and cooling plates to maintain an ideal battery and electric drive unit temperature. The plates allow the EQXX to gain about 12 miles of range in its most aerodynamic mode.

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