Las Vegas, Nevada - This is the first of Hyundai’s second-generation fuel-cell electric vehicles, revealed this week at the Consumer Electronics Show, and powered by a comprehensively upgraded version of the fuel-cell used in the iX35 FCEV.
The Nexo is Hyundai’s first car designed from the ground up for fuel-cell power, which makes it lighter, quicker, more efficient and more spacious inside than one adapted from a combustion-engined design.
It’ll be released in selected markets around the world (where hydrogen refuelling stations are already available, obviously, which pretty well rules out South Africa, with exactly one for the whole country) as the technological flagship of the company’s eco-friendly range (Hyundai has promised 18 low-emission models by 2025) and features a raft of new and upgraded driver aids.
But first - the powertrain: The Nexo’s fuel-cell stack is lighter and more compact than that of the iX35 FCEV, but delivers almost as much power - 95kW versus 100kW. The electric motor it supplies, however, produces 20 percent more - 120kW versus 100kW, thanks to a 40kWh battery (up from 24kWh) and a lot more torque (395Nm versus 300).
Peak acceleration, says Hyundai, is 25 percent sharper than with the iX35 Fuel Cell. But more importantly, the Nexo has an estimated range of 800km on a full tank, compared to the iX35 Fuel Cell’s 590km.
Hyundai has put a lot of work into the cooling system; the Nexo is capable of cold starts within 30 seconds of turning the key (which the maker claims as best in class) warms up quicker than its predecessor and can cope with ambient temperatures of 50 degrees.
It can be refuelled from empty using new, lighter hydrogen tanks and, as an added bonus, all the moving parts are inside what used to be called the engine compartment, so a modicum of sound-deadening material in a concentrated area gives an impressively quiet ride.
At first glance there’s not much new about the Nexo’s driver aids, but in every case Hyundai has upped the ante with fresh developments
The blind spot monitor shows the rear and side views on both sides when changing lanes, using wide angle surround view cameras, on a centre screen.
Lane following assist - a new technology for Hyundai - automatically adjusts the steering to help keep the car centred in its lane, on both highways and city streets, at up 140km/h. In conjunction with highway driving assist, which utilises sensors and map data to automatically adjust speed in limited environments, it functions as a safety aid, rather than as a partially autonomous driving system.
And finally, this is the first Hyundai that can back itself into a parking bay - watch the last few second of the video.