Hyundai has offered an early glimpse of its next generation fuel cell vehicle, well ahead of the hydrogen-powered SUV’s official launch early next year. At a special preview event held in Seoul, the near-production-ready version exhibited its impressive capabilities while revealing its futuristic design. The yet-to-be-named FCEV (Fuel Cell Vehicle) model embodies Hyundai’s commitment to a new era for advanced eco-friendly vehicle development.
The new SUV shown at the special event 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’s global research, development and real-world evaluation programs. The new vehicle reinforces the company’s leadership in fuel cell-based electric-powertrain systems, created with expertise honed through the world’s first commercial production of a 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.
On fuel cell system efficiency, Hyundai is able to enhance fuel cell performance by reducing hydrogen consumption and optimizing key components. The vehicle’s efficiency is greatly improved compared to the its predecessor, the ix35 Fuel Cell. 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 about 800 km on a single charge (based on New European Driving Cycle (NEDC)). Performance is upped by 20 percent from its previous edition. 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, by incorporating key components in the fuel stack developed by Hyundai. 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.
By employing highly durable catalyst technology, the new hydrogen-powered SUV ensures even greater longevity than its predecessor. 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.
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 FCEV exhibited at Geneva Motor Show
The new FCEV inherits striking design features from the FE Concept, which was introduced at the 2017 Geneva Auto Show. The new model builds on the earlier concept’s design, taking an organic and flowing form, inspired by nature, namely water. Furthermore, the new vehicle embodies pure and serene design, which reflects its calming presence on the road. while being in harmony with nature.
In addition, the high-tech look is augmented by low-drag elements that accentuate the clean and calm design. The door handles sit flush to the car, while the air curtain – in conjunction with the air tunnel inside the D-pillar, maximizes aerodynamic efficiency. The SUV’s wheel design aims to capture both captivating style and optimized low drag airflow with a specialized two-piece construction.
The clean and simple interior layout intuitively integrates high-tech elements, to avoid clutter and emphasize a calming presence. The wide dashboard with its high console reinforces the superior SUV-style driving position and incorporates the ergonomically-designed intuitive controls and AV display screen.
Inspired by nature, the interior features subdued colors and tones to help create an ultramodern environment. Completing the futuristic finish is a unique blend of woven fabric and suede used for accents in the seat design.
New eco-vehicle development roadmap
Spurred on by greater global demand for fuel-efficient, eco-friendly vehicles, 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.
While Hyundai 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 by 2018, Genesis EV model in 2021 and a long-range EV, with 500km range after 2021.