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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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Kia is offering the Sorento SUV in a hybrid form for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

New car prices keep going up so it was only a matter of time before the average new car price hit the $40,000 threshold. New quarterly analysis by Edmunds showed that the average amount borrowed for a new car in the fourth quarter of 2020 was $35,373. Buyers put an average of $4,734 down on top of that, which makes the average new car price $40,107.

Paying around $40,000 is a sweet spot in the market. It gets buyers into lower cost luxury and premium models as well as most of the mass market offerings. AutomotiveMap has put together a list of the best vehicles you can get for around the $40,000 mark.

2021 Acura TLX

2021 Acura TLX Advance

Photo courtesy of Acura

Price: $37,500
The Acura TLX debuted as a completely redesigned car for the 2021 model year bringing with it a new sportiness and fresh styling outside and in. The TLX is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Its cabin is quite nice - decked out in leatherette upholstery with 12-way power-adjustable and heated front seats. Dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, a 10-speaker audio system, satellite radio, two USB ports, a 10.2-inch infotainment touch screen, seven-inch driver information display, Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto make up just some of the items on the standard features list.

Editor's Note: Acura doesn't sell the TLX in a variety of trim levels. Instead, buyers choose the TLX then can add on packages to get what they want. The model described here has no package add-ons. Pictured: 2021 Acura TLX Advance

2021 Ram 1500 Big Horn

2021 Ram 1500 Big Horn

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Price: $39,490
Configure the 2021 Ram 1500 Big Horn with two-wheel drive, a crew cab, and 5'7" box to get one of the best trucks at the price point. It comes standard with Ram's tried and true 3.6-liter V6 engine, which provides a good amount of power. Cloth seating for six passengers and a five-inch infotainment screen is standard as well.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Price: $32,660
The Ford Bronco Sport Badlands trim is the most off-road capable version of the SUV, and it's no slouch. The model is powered by a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, off-road suspension, advanced four-wheel drive with a twin-clutch rear-drive unit, a Terrain Management System with G.O.A.T. modes, metal bash plates, Trail Control, a 180-degree front camera with washer, front tow hooks, and rubberized flooring. The SUV rides on 17-inch Carbonized Gray-painted aluminum wheels wrapped in 28.5-inch all-terrain tires.

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Price: $36,590
The new-for-2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid comes in just two trim levels: S and EX. The upgraded EX model gets an EPA-estimated 37 mpg and has 227 total system horsepower. The features list for the Sorento Hybrid EX is long and includes a power liftgate, fog lights, a panoramic sunroof, and wireless phone charger. It also comes with a host of safety and driver assist technologies like adaptive cruise control and forward collision avoidance assist.

2021 Genesis G70 2.0T

2021 Genesis G70 Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

Price: $36,000
The Genesis G70 is a sports sedan you probably haven't seen that much on roads near you, but you should. They should be everywhere. For under $40,000, buyers can get their hands on a rear-wheel drive G70 2.0T with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that produces 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It has the buyer's choice of gray or black leatherette upholstery.

2021 Honda Ridgeline RTL

2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Price: $39,470
The Ridgeline might not be a typical truck in the looks category, but for the 2021 model year the Honda has gotten some aesthetic beef thanks to a design refresh. The truck continues to have a trunk in its bed and now comes standard with the Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver assist technologies. Power comes from the truck's 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 that is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.The Ridgeline is most noted for its refined and comfortable interior that's more SUV-like than truck-like. For 2021, that has only improved. The RTL grade (Ridgeline Sport is shown above) is a step up from the base model.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Touring

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Price: $39,995
The Chrysler Pacifica is presently the best minivan you can buy. Its Hybrid version (shown above in the Pinnacle grade) adds plug-in electric capability to the equation offering over 30 miles of gasoline-free driving per charge and running like a typical hybrid when the battery has been depleted or the van needs some extra oomph. With the Pacifica Hybrid Touring buyers get their choice of a number of included paint colors, 17-inch machined aluminum wheels with gray pockets wrapped in all-season tires, premium cloth bucket seats in black or cognac, and a 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen.

2021 Acura RDX

2019 Acura RDX Advance

Photo courtesy of Acura

Price: $38,400
Acura sells gobs of RDXs and it's really no mystery as to why. The SUV is fun to drive, has abundant cargo space, and is easy on the eyes. Add in the comfortable seats that offer plenty of space, and the RDX turns into one of the best family haulers out there, empty nest or not. The 2021 RDX rides on standard 19-inch glitter silver wheels, gets its power from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 272 horsepower, and has a host of infotainment features like a nine-speaker audio system, two USB ports, HD Radio, a 10.2-inch infotainment system touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and satellite radio. Buyers ca opt for all-wheel drive, which puts the vehicle just a tick over the $40,000 mark.

Editor's Note: Acura doesn't sell the RDX in a variety of trim levels. Instead, buyers choose the RDX then can add on packages to get what they want. The model described here has no package add-ons. Shown: 2019 Acura RDX Advance

2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Price: $35,300
Not only does the fanciest and most tech-forward Hyundai Sonata Hybrid you can buy get 47 mpg, it also has a solar roof. It also doesn't lack oomph, with 192 horsepower from its propulsion system at the ready. The car has a 12.3-inch fully-digital gauge cluster and a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen. It also sports plenty of head- and legroom, cargo space, and forward visibility. Pricing for the sedan includes checking nearly every option box, which is standard for the Limited model.

2021 Kia Telluride EX

2020 Kia Telluride

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Price: $37,590
Kia is selling the Telluride like gangbusters and it's not hard to see why. The three-row SUV comes standard with a 3.8-liter V6 that supplies plenty of power. Its roster of standard features on the EX trim level includes a power liftgate, 18-inch alloy wheels, Driver Talk, Quiet Mode, a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen, wireless smartphone charging, six USB ports, leather-trimmed seats, and more. Add all-wheel drive for just $2,000 more.

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Panasonic, Klipsch, and Dolby have teamed up to create a new audio system, Klipsch Premium Audio.

Photo courtesy of Panasonic

Panasonic Automotive Systems of America, Klipsch, and Dolby Atmos Music have teamed up to create a new proof-of-concept that features immersive sound technology named Klipsch Premium Audio.

Each of the parties brings unique assets to the table. Panasonic Automotive has the know-how for vehicle product design while Klipsch specializes in technonlogy-driven sound performance. Dolby has long been a stable of at-home audio systems.

"I have personally participated in bringing to market a range of products which feature Dolby Atmos capability. The sonic realism and envelopment of the listener into the on-screen action for films opens up new dimensions of entertainment," said Mark Casavant, vice president of Brand & Business Development, Klipsch Group, "Working with the audio experts at Panasonic Automotive we have achieved a similar experience for the in-vehicle listener with Dolby Atmos music. The music is more immersive, with additional space clarity, and depth."

Klipsch uses four sound principles to achieve its award-winning sound:

  • High efficiency/low distortion - Klipsch technology is highly efficient, providing more accurate sound with less power and less distortion – resulting in louder, cleaner audio. Klipsch's Law: Efficiency is inversely proportional to distortion.
  • Wide dynamic range - The softest sounds are reproduced with remarkable clarity and the loudest is delivered without harshness or distortion – with the greatest possible range between the softest and loudest sounds.
  • Controlled directivity - Klipsch technology accurately directs sound to the proper locations, which, in turn, creates a more lifelike soundstage without wasting acoustic energy where sound is not needed or desired.
  • Flat frequency response - Audio delivery is without frequency bias – no unnatural highs, miss or lows – reproducing recorded sound as accurately as possible without colorization.

Dolby Atmos sound is designed to go beyond the traditional limits of mono and stereo, placing the listener in an immersive soundscape.

"Panasonic Automotive has built a reputation pushing the boundaries of in-vehicle entertainment," said Tom Dunn, director of Panasonic Global Premium Audio, "Our award-winning automotive audio systems are recognized for creating unforgettable listening experiences based on engineering, artistry and emotion. Market leading innovations are what drive the technical teams at Panasonic and Klipsch, and delivering our first in-vehicle demonstration of Dolby Atmos music reflects our aligned goals and commitment to achieving a higher standard of music enjoyment."

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