At a special preview event held in Seoul, Hyundai Motor provided an early glimpse of its next-generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, which is due to launch early next year. The new fuel cell SUV will spearhead Hyundai Motor’s plans to accelerate development of low emission vehicles, in line with Hyundai Motor Group’s renewed goal of introducing 31 eco-friendly models (Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors combined) to global markets by 2020.
The yet-to-be-named model shown previews Hyundai Motor’s second commercially produced hydrogen model and uses the company’s fourth-generation of hydrogen fuel cell technology. The vehicle, its capabilities and fuel cell technologies are an evolution of Hyundai Motor’s global research, development and real-world evaluation programs. The company launched its first commercial fuel cell vehicle in 2013.
The new fuel cell model was developed on four key pillars that focus on fuel cell system efficiency; performance (maximum output); durability; and tank storage density.
Fuel cell system efficiency: By enhancing fuel cell performance, reducing hydrogen consumption, and optimizing key components, the vehicle’s efficiency is greatly improved compared to the its predecessor, the ix35 Fuel Cell (Tucson Fuel Cell in some markets). The new SUV boasts an efficiency level of 60%, or a 9% increase from the ix35’s 55.3%. With enhanced system efficiency, the new model targets a driving range of more than 580 km (360 miles) on a single charge (based on Korean testing standards).
Performance (maximum output): The new model’s maximum output is enhanced by 20% compared to its predecessor, with 163 PS (120 kW) of power. The fuel cell SUV also improves the car’s cold start capability, overcoming the challenges of starting fuel cell vehicles in temperatures below freezing point. The vehicle’s architecture is optimized to allow it to be started at -30 degrees Celsius (22 degrees Fahrenheit), by incorporating key components in the fuel stack developed by Hyundai Motor. In addition to boosting the new car’s capabilities, the enhanced components—such as MEA (membrane electrode assembly) and bipolar plates—also helped to reduce production costs.
Durability: By employing highly durable catalyst technology, the new hydrogen-powered SUV ensures even greater longevity than its predecessor.
Hydrogen storage: The next-generation hydrogen vehicle makes significant improvements in tank storage density. The tank package now features three equally-sized tanks, as opposed to two of different sizes. World-class tank gravimetric capacity was achieved through innovations to the plastic liner configuration and efficient layering pattern, which resulted in a reduction of thickness.
The mass-produced new vehicle will also feature advanced driver assistance technologies, alongside its extensive hydrogen-powered range. The details of the new ADAS features will be disclosed in January at the 2018 CES, along with the official model name.
Hyundai Motor will reveal the new hydrogen SUV early next year in Korea, followed by the North American and European markets. The company will also consider expanding availability of its new fuel cell model to markets with high growth potential for eco-friendly vehicles such as China.
New eco-vehicle development roadmap. Hyundai Motor plans to take a multi-pronged approach to its eco-vehicle program. The company is committed to a future vehicle line-up comprising a variety of powertrain options—electric, hybrid and fuel cell—to suit customers’ varied lifestyles.
The roadmap sets out the brand’s goal of leading the global popularization of hybrid vehicles, expanding its lineup to SUVs and large vehicles. Another part of the plan is the development of 4WD and FR (Front Engine Rear Wheel Drive) variants, building on its proprietary Transmission-Mounted Electrical Device (TMED) system, which was developed in 2011. (Earlier post.)
While Hyundai Motor continues to develop its leadership of the electric vehicle market with its current IONIQ model, the company also aims to establish a lineup ranging from small EVs to large and luxurious Genesis-brand models. Hyundai Motor’s electric vehicle development will take place in multiple phases:
Launch of EV version of the Kona compact SUV, with range of 390 km (242 miles) in first half of 2018
Launch of Genesis EV model in 2021
Launch of long-range EV, with 500 km (311 miles) range after 2021
Furthermore, Hyundai Motor will develop its first dedicated architecture for pure electric vehicles, which will allow the company to produce multiple models with longer driving ranges.
Hyundai Motor will also strengthen its global leadership in hydrogen fuel cell technology. This will center on enhancing research and development efforts to boost FCEV performance and durability, while also making the technology smaller and cheaper so that it can be applied to smaller sedans. As part of these efforts, Hyundai Motor will unveil a new hydrogen-powered bus in the fourth quarter of this year.
Hyundai Motor will also take part in the Hydrogen House, projected by the Seoul city government, displaying prototypes of the new fuel cell vehicle starting today until 17 November that will promote emission-free fuel cell vehicles and a Hydrogen Society. It is through initiatives like this that Hyundai Motor will demonstrate how a Hydrogen Energy Society could be realized in the not-too-distant future.
Hyundai Motor now sells fuel cell vehicles in 18 countries. The company began researching fuel cell technology in 1998 and developed its first fuel cell vehicle based on the Santa Fe SUV, as part of a collaboration with CaFCP (California Fuel Cell Partnership).