Picture: Lee Jin-man / AP Photo.
Picture: Lee Jin-man / AP Photo.
Picture: Lee Jin-man / AP Photo.
Picture: Lee Jin-man / AP Photo.
Picture: Lee Jin-man / AP Photo.
Picture: Lee Jin-man / AP Photo.

Seoul - Hyundai is betting big on the future of hydrogen-power with this all-new SUV that was revealed in near-production form on Thursday.

Unlike the Tucson ix FCEV that it replaces, the newcomer, which as yet to be named, has a design of its very own as Hyundai aims to lend a unique presence to its new fuel cell powered take on the future.

The new SUV is nine percent more efficient and 20 percent more powerful than its predecessor, according to Hyundai, with a power output of 120kW and a targeted driving range of 580km between refuels - and that's 40 percent further than the vehicle it replaces.

Hyundai also claims to have made significant improvements in tank storage density through three equal-sized hydrogen tanks. 

The vehicle will go on sale in selected markets from 2018, and Hyundai is planning to mass produce it, although no projected sales figures were provided.  

But will limited infrastructure get in its way?

Fuel cell cars, emission-free like pure electric cars, can be refueled in two to three minutes, unlike electric vehicles that can take several hours to fully recharge. But the dearth of hydrogen fueling stations is an obstacle for mass adoption. 

Toyota, Honda and GM are also investing heavily in fuel cell technology but fuel cell cars are gaining less traction than electric vehicles, which can find charging stations more easily.

South Korea plans to increase the number of hydrogen fueling stations from 16 stations this year to 100 stations by 2020 to sharply raise sales of fuel cell vehicles. The country is aiming to have 10 000 fuel cell vehicles on its roads by 2020 as part of its plans to tackle air pollution, its environmental ministry said in March. That would be a jump from just 121 fuel cell cars in 2016.

Hyundai also plans to catch up in the eco-friendly car race with longer driving range electric vehicles.

Sources: AP & Hyundai