Hyundai Motor has offered an early glimpse of its next generation fuel cell vehicles, 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 model embodies Hyundai Motor’s commitment to a new era for advanced eco-friendly vehicle development.
Fourth generation fuel cell system
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 Motor’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.
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. 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 (maximum output)
The new model’s maximum output is enhanced by 20% compared to its predecessor, boasting an impressive 163PS 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.
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. World-class tank gravimetric capacity (hydrogen storage mass per tank weight) 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.
New eco-vehicle development roadmap
The new model 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. This new development roadmap also represents the next step for Hyundai Motor and its affiliate toward realizing the ultimate ambition of creating a cleaner environment through eco-friendly vehicles.
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.
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 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 390km in first half of 2018
Launch of Genesis EV model in 2021
Launch of long-range EV, with 500km 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.