Estimated 380-Mile Driving Range; Five-Minute Refueling Time
Hyundai has already shown the 2019 Nexo fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) crossover, the replacement for the Tucson FCEV. Like its predecessor, the Hyundai Nexo will only be available at a handful of California dealers when it goes on sale before the end of the year.
A New Fuel Cell System
In addition to a new dedicated platform, the fuel cell system in the Hyundai Nexo is a next-generation design that is both more powerful and efficient. Although smaller than the fuel cell in the Tucson, overall total energy has increased by 20 percent. The 95-kilowatt fuel cell paired with a 40-kilowatt battery feed an electric motor that produces 161 horsepower and 291 pounds-feet of torque. FCEVs are not touted as speed machines, the Nexo included, although its claimed 9.5-second zero-to-60-mph time chops three seconds off the Tucson’s number.
Hyundai has adapted an e-booster to compress the air coming into the fuel cell stack. Since the compressor is typically the single noisiest part of the system, this has made a noticeable improvement in sound quality.
The Nexo places the battery pack in the cargo bay and uses three identical 13.7 gallon tanks with two under the rear seat and the third under the cargo floor. As a result, the Nexo is left with 29.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat. Once the hydrogen tanks are empty, the Nexo can be refueled in five minutes, according to Hyundai.
An interesting feature of the Nexo is its air purification system. Before sending air into the fuel cell stack, it is run through a filtration system that removes 99.9 percent of particulate matter, fine dust and other air pollutants. So not only does it emit nothing but water vapor, the excess air comes out cleaner than it went in.
Capitalizing on the popularity of crossover SUVs, it’s not surprising that Hyundai chose that market segment when designing the Hyundai Nexo. At the front, the typical Hyundai cascading grille has been more integrated into the face, while overall a smoother, cleaner shape optimizes aerodynamics of the hydrogen-fueled crossover.
An interesting detail of the Nexo design is the vertical slots built into the D-pillars at the rear of the body. Air flowing through these slots creates a virtual wall, managing the overall airflow at the back of the vehicle. Air tumbling off the back of a vehicle body creates turbulence that is a prime source of drag. Combined with other aerodynamic design features including wheel air curtains, aerodynamic wheel design, auto-flush door handles and hidden front wipers contribute to an overall coefficient of drag of 0.32. That’s a notable number for an SUV of this size.
Inside, the Hyundai Nexo has a high-tech looking cabin with a large dual display panel that stands atop the dash, spanning from the left to the center. Like other Hyundais, it has support for Android Auto and Apple Carplay. The Bluelink remote app shows real-time driving range estimates and has a hydrogen fuel station locator and the ability to send directions directly to the in-car navigation system.
There are a host of driver-assist technologies, like forward collision-avoidance assist, high-beam assist and what it calls remote smart parking assist. By pressing a button on the fob, the Hyundai Nexo can automatically back itself into a parking slot and pull itself out, or parallel park itself.
In addition to launching the Nexo in the U.S., the Korean automaker has announced it will deploy 1,500 fuel cell trucks in Switzerland and France over the next five years. The automaker also plans to introduce 38 new or redesigned green vehicles by 2025, likely including models for its Kia and Genesis brands.
No pricing or exact delivery dates have been announced, but Hyundai said the Nexo will initially be available in Southern California at Keyes Hyundai in Van Nuys, and Tustin Hyundai in Tustin by the of the year. Capitol Hyundai, which is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, will begin selling the fuel-cell vehicle in 2019.
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