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2025 Hyundai Nexo: Australia will 'definitely' see Hyundai's next-gen hydrogen technology as the Korean brand eyes ACT as an ideal test-case for hydrogen-based 'community'

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Hyundai Nexo.
Hyundai Nexo.

Hyundai Australia has confirmed that we’ll be seeing its next-generation Nexo hydrogen SUV as its trial of the technology in the ACT is set to continue.

Hyundai’s Chief Operating Officer, John Kett said: “We’ll have a chance to see the next-generation Nexo and it looks incredible. We’ll definitely be getting that and we’ll talk about that more when we’re ready to talk about it.”

The Korean automaker sees the opportunity for its hydrogen models to provide a supplementary offering as part of its zero-emissions mix, but overcoming the expensive infrastructure hurdles with commercial vehicles is the only way it can make the wider adoption of passenger vehicles possible.

“We see [hydrogen] positioned certainly in trucks, and we’ve got a lot of work to do in our zero emissions heavy commercial space. When we get that right and we get the data, it opens the doors for opportunity around SUVs,” Kett said at the launch of the new Santa Fe.

While Hyundai currently doesn’t operate any fuel-cell heavy vehicles in Australia, it has a successful test fleet of Xcient heavy trucks in limited use in Europe.

“It’s a long-long play right? It’s all part of our commitment [to Hyundai HQ]. It’s still in the preliminary stages. We’ll keep playing around with it and make it work.”

“Generally around infrastructure for EV it’s tough today. We can pick infrastructure points on the maps knowing that certain EV chargers will be down. We think about hydrogen more as a community based cluster.”

“The ACT lends itself to having three or four stations domestically around that area you can pretty much run and be guaranteed you’ll have access [to fuel].”

Hyundai communications boss, Bill Thomas added: “You can then use that as a model for other cities and metro areas and use that as a geofenced area.”

2021 Hyundai Nexo
2021 Hyundai Nexo

It’s part of the electric mix, he says. “We’re going to continually pursue hydrogen - it will be a part of the EV third of the mix.”

The next-gen Nexo is yet to be revealed, but is expected to launch in its home market in the second quarter of 2025. Meanwhile, the brand has also noted the possibility of a Staria fuel cell for commercial applications.

Hyundai in South Korea has made clear its plans to forge ahead with fuel-cell based technology and plans to make its home market what it calls a “hydrogen society”. It will be able to do so thanks to its overwhelming market share. Hyundai Motor Group (including Kia and Genesis) controlled over 90 per cent of the South Korean domestic market in 2023.

While we might see a limited number of next-generation Nexo FCEVs issued on a fleet basis from the brand, the tech does make more sense the heavier the vehicle gets, and it could be the only way to bring carbon emissions down for the heavy transport sector.

For example, in the case of an intercity prime mover, the size, weight, and cost of the batteries required to switch to battery electric could be prohibitive, where a hydrogen-electric system scales much better because it has a roughly equivalent system weight and power output to a diesel.

Hyundai Xcient in America
Hyundai Xcient in America

This is thanks to hydrogen being an ultra-light fuel. In the case of the outgoing current-generation Nexo SUV, just 6.33kg of hydrogen allows 666km of driving range on a single fill, and the refuelling process takes a similar amount of time to regular petrol and diesel.

This would allow long-distance trucking to switch to zero emissions without concerns around reduced payload or long charging times. But there’s a way to go yet, especially with how hydrogen is produced and how much it currently costs.

For a start, roughly 99 per cent of current hydrogen fuel is a byproduct of the fossil fuel industry (mostly grey hydrogen, which is extracted from natural gas) and carries an emissions burden. ‘Green hydrogen’ which carries a minimal emissions burden is generally produced via electrolysis, which requires an abundance of additional energy, ideally idle time from renewable power sources like wind or solar.

Because resulting hydrogen fuel can be stored, transported, and used elsewhere, it is seen as a large potential future industry for Australia.

2025 Honda CR-V FCEV
2025 Honda CR-V FCEV

While news has been quiet on the hydrogen front for mainstream buyers for a few years since the arrival of the Hyundai Nexo SUV and Toyota Mirai sedan in Australia, many brands are working on hydrogen in the background as a viable zero-driving-emissions alternative to pure electric vehicles.

Honda recently debuted a version of its CR-V using a plug-in hydrogen electric setup, which utilises both a battery and hydrogen fuel cells for an extended driving range.

The brand also has a strategic partnership with GM and Isuzu for work on hydrogen drivetrains, with Isuzu earmarking the tech as a possible future drivetrain for its light trucks, and possibly even its D-Max and MU-X SUVs.

Toyota also earmarks hydrogen as particularly important in the future, and even has a prototype combustion hydrogen engine used for racing.

Meanwhile Hyundai itself has partnerships with both Iveco and Ineos to provide next-gen fuel stacks for their commercial and off-road vehicles respectively.

Tom White
Senior Journalist
Despite studying ancient history and law at university, it makes sense Tom ended up writing about cars, as he spent the majority of his waking hours finding ways to drive as many as possible. His fascination with automobiles was also accompanied by an affinity for technology growing up, and he is just as comfortable tinkering with gadgets as he is behind the wheel. His time at CarsGuide has given him a nose for industry news and developments at the forefront of car technology.
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