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Hyundai hydrogen fuel cell SUV 2018 revealed

Using European testing standards, Hyundai’s latest hydrogen-powered SUV should cover about 800km on a single fill.

Hyundai has ripped the covers off its second fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) SUV, with the unnamed model set to launch globally early next year, featuring a driving range of about 800 kilometres.

Revealed in Seoul this morning, the FCEV succeeds the left-hand drive (LHD) ix35 Fuel Cell from 2013, which was trialled in Australia as part of the Korean carmaker’s preparations for this second-generation model. However, a local launch is yet to be confirmed.

Two LHD prototypes of the vehicle were here last month for cold-weather testing, with a team of Hyundai engineers from South Korea assessing the SUV’s systems in the Snowy Mountains, New South Wales.

The SUV should cover about 800km on a single fill. The SUV should cover about 800km on a single fill.

Meanwhile, 20 examples of the new model will be supplied to the ACT government late next year as part of the Hornsdale Windfarm Stage 3 project.

Using Hyundai's fourth-gen hydrogen fuel cell technology, the SUV should cover about 800km on a single fill (based on European testing standards), a considerable increase over the first-gen model’s claimed driving range of 594km.

Furthermore, the FCEV has an efficiency level of 60 per cent, representing a nine per cent increase over the ix35 Fuel Cell’s 55.3 per cent effort.

Maximum power output has been boosted by 20 per cent, to 120kW, when compared to the SUV’s 100kW predecessor.

The Seoul-based company says it has improved the FCEV’s cold start capability, as hydrogen-powered vehicles often have trouble starting when temperatures are below freezing point.

As such, the SUV can be started at -30 degrees Celsius, thanks to the incorporation of key components, like the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) and bipolar plates, into the fuel stack.

Durability was also a key focus during development, with highly durable catalyst technology allowing greater longevity, according to Hyundai.

The FCEV’s futuristic look inside and out is said to be inspired by nature. The FCEV’s futuristic look inside and out is said to be inspired by nature.

Tank storage density has been addressed, with the FCEV featuring three equally-sized tanks, which differs to the ix35 Fuel Cell’s two tanks of different sizes.

Advanced driver assistance and safety (ADAS) technologies will be available with the SUV, including new features that will be detailed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January next year.

Inheriting styling cues inside and out from the FE Fuel Cell concept shown at the Geneva motor show in March, the FCEV’s futuristic look is said to be inspired by nature.

Minimising the SUV’s drag coefficient meant flush door handles were added, as well as an air tunnel inside the D-pillar.

Inside, the centre console and dashboard are simplified with the implementation of side-by-side digital displays, which handle instrument cluster and multimedia system responsibilities.

Hyundai Motor Group has also outlined its plans for forthcoming low-emission vehicles, with 31 new models to be rolled out in global markets under the Hyundai and Kia brands by 2020.

Specifically, powertrain options will span full electric (EV), hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, allowing for plenty of customer choice.

An EV version of the Kona compact SUV due next month is being readied for a global launch in the first half of next year, with a claimed driving range of 390km.

Alternatively, the first EV model under the Genesis luxury brand will arrive during 2021, while a long-range EV capable of travelling 500km on a single charge will follow soon afterwards.

Fuel cell vehicles will continue to be a priority for Hyundai as it looks to sustain its leadership in the area, with a hydrogen-powered bus to be uncovered in the forth quarter of this year.

Will fuel cell electric vehicles, like Hyundai's new SUV, become a popular alternative to fossil fuel power? Tell us what you think in the comments below.