On the streets of Las Vegas, Hyundai shows off its first dedicated hydrogen fuel cell platform with the Nexo FCV.
Battery-powered cars have really started to take off in recent years. Tesla, a byword for electric vehicles, built a Supercharger network that now spans the country, with nearly 8,500 locations. Pretty much every manufacturer has jumped on the battery EV bandwagon. Within a decade or so, those manufacturers aim to comprise at least a quarter of total sales by electrified cars. And yet, for all the progress battery EVs have made, hydrogen-powered electric vehicles are largely absent from the landscape, by comparison.
The world of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) is still small and low-volume, but Hyundai is still committed to the cause. Hyundai currently makes a fuel cell version of the Tucson compact crossover, and looks to replace it with this: the Hyundai Nexo.
The details on Hyundai’s bigger FCV
At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Hyundai finally dished out details on the Nexo FCV. Alongside the Ioniq and impending Kona EV, the Nexo will further expand Hyundai’s EV lineup. They’ve been in the hydrogen game for awhile, but this model will be their first dedicated fuel cell platform.
The Nexo is bigger than the Tucson Fuel Cell it replaces. In fact, it’s 10.3 inches longer (183.9 inches), 1.5 inches wider (73.2 inches), and an inch lower (64.2 inches). The new model also has a larger battery pack than the outgoing Tucson Fuel Cell. The Nexo’s 40-kW battery pack and its 95-kW fuel cell pair to give the car an estimated 370 miles of range. That’s a remarkable improvement over the Tucson, and puts the Nexo on par with its gasoline-powered rivals. For those worried about reliability, Hyundai has tested the Nexo’s ability to start and operate in temperatures as low as -20° F and up to 120° F.
Hyundai fitted the Nexo with a 161 horsepower electric motor that also generates 291 lb-ft of torque. That doesn’t make it a speed machine – the Nexo hits 60 from a stand-still in 9.5 seconds – but that’s enough grunt for the urban shuffle. As you’d expect, they’ve also thrown all the latest tech at the Nexo. You even get a remote park assist feature, that can park and beckon the car with or without its driver actually in the car.
The Nexo FCV will go on sale this year…but only in California
Here’s the rub. Hydrogen is, by the numbers, a feasible alternative to gasoline-powered cars. They’re also much more practical than battery-powered EVs, because they operate on the same principal as their fossil-fueled ancestors. You drive 370 miles, pull into a hydrogen fueling station, spend a few minutes filling up, and away you go to drive another 370 miles. However, the infrastructure limits where you can actually drive in your hydrogen-powered car.
According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are 39 hydrogen stations in the entire United States – 35 of which are in California. Interestingly, if you live in South Carolina, Connecticut, or Massachusetts, you could feasibly own this car. However, if you’re anywhere else in the country, you’re out of luck for the time being.
To that end, Hyundai is only selling this car in California, as that’s the only place with any real infrastructure to support FCVs. Hyundai hasn’t officially announced pricing, at time of writing.
If you’re interested in a funky-looking Hyundai that you will be able to buy throughout the U.S., check out the new Kona. Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow on YouTube for the latest videos on your favorite new models!