Hyundai will be rolling out its second fuel cell SUV next year, one that will set a record by going 800 kilometers (497 miles) on a tank of hydrogen.
The company said at the Geneva Motor Show that the FE Fuel Cell Concept will represent the next generation in hydrogen-powered vehicles.
The Korean automaker says it will be able to tap into years of experience developing fuel cells, with the FE representing its fourth generation of hydrogen fuel cell technology. Compared to its current Hyundai Tucson ix35 Fuel Cell (Tucson Fuel Cell in the U.S.), the fuel cell technology is 20 percent lighter and gains 10 percent greater efficiency. Power density is increasing significantly – by 30 percent – which Hyundai said is behind boosting the car’s range that much.
Besides the fact that it would be the longest range zero emission vehicle, and fuel cell vehicle, out there, the irony is that Hyundai didn’t mention the 800-kilometer range until the very end of its press release.
Another interesting aspect of the announcement is that it will be the second fuel cell SUV that Hyundai will produce, and the second fuel cell SUV out on the market. That implies the Korean automaker sees the functionality and space for extra passengers of an SUV to be up there with the environmental gains supported by zero emissions vehicles.
Instead, the company focused on its role as a global leader in adopting the clean fuel and technology. The company said the new fuel cell SUV “represents the next step for Hyundai Motor toward realizing its ultimate ambition of creating a zero-emission Hydrogen Energy Society.”
Part of that move was joining the Hydrogen Council earlier this year, which is dedicated to promoting the development and commercialization of fuel cell cars. The company says that it’s been at the forefront of hydrogen vehicle development for two decades, launching the world’s first hydrogen-powered vehicle in the 1×35 Fuel Cell, which is currently being sold in 17 countries around the world.
“Hyundai Motor has a heritage of building innovative, fuel-efficient vehicles that advance the automotive industry’s environmental progress. Our FE Fuel Cell Concept is an important evolution of our pioneering hydrogen leadership, and moves us closer to our vision for a ‘Hydrogen Society’, where transportation is clean, efficient and enhances the lives of our customers,” said Woong Chul Yang, vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Company.
Hyundai may have been working on fuel cell vehicles for many years, and did beat Toyota and Honda in launching the first-ever mass-produced fuel cell vehicles. However, its sales have been very light so far.
So far, Hyundai has only sold seven Tucson Fuel Cell units in the U.S. this year, compared to 193 Toyota Mirais and 69 Honda Claritys sold in the U.S. through the end of February, according to HybridCar’s Dashboard. Sales are slight for all three, but the Tucson Fuel Cell has been far behind.
That seems to be the case in other markets, with fuel cell vehicle sales being quite minimal so far in Europe. National governments in South Korea in Japan have been supporting fuel cell vehicle sales in incentives and public outreach but it’s still quite early for fuel cell vehicles in those markets. Hyundai has quite a challenge ahead.
The “FE” in the concept vehicle stands for Future Eco, reflecting new technologies supporting eco-friendliness, which the company thinks is well represented by fuel cells.
Another tech innovation that Hyundai announced will go into the FE will be its internal air humidifier. That device will be able to recycle water emitted trough the SUV’s hydrogen circulation to create a more comfortable cabin.
Hyundai is also showcasing the Ioniq line-up at the Geneva Motor Show with the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid taking center stage. The electrified vehicle is set to arrive at European showrooms in the summer.
The company sees the FE Fuel Cell Concept as another step forward in its goal to bring 14 or more new environmentally-focused models to market by 2020.