Hyundai Sets Out Hydrogen Vision

Hyundai has spelled out its vision of a hydrogen future and it looks like following Japan’s lead of staking its transportation solutions on fuel cell rather than BEV at least for domestic markets.

Fittingly, it chose Earth Day 2019 to illuminate landmarks in the South Korean capital Seoul with projections powered by its hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, the Hyundai Nexos. The carmaker, whose brands include Kia, has been working constantly on fuel cell technology for many years as I witnessed myself on a visit nearly ten years ago to its research and development center specializing in hydrogen technology.

While many pundits at the Geneva Motor Show this year questioned its late arrival in the BEV market with the Kia E-Niro, others may see this as an indicator that the automaker, along with some others, views BEVs as a niche product unlikely to become the mainstream transportation solution.

Its light show event, Empowering Tomorrow with Hydrogen, also underlines hydrogen’s superior climate control credentials over lithium-ion battery technology that is increasingly coming under fire from activists for its comparatively large carbon footprint compared to other powertrain options.

In a statement the carmaker said the demonstration, using five NEXOs charged at Sangam Hydrogen Station from biogas produced from a nearby hydrogen producing landfill site, “exemplifies an environmentally friendly method of energy generation”. Fuel cell stacks in the cars were converted to generators to power beam projectors which were also individually equipped with power inverters. Its statement also highlighted the advantages hydrogen enjoys over batteries for energy storage where, over long period of time, it does not suffer the degradation of either hardware or the energy itself.

Hyundai first commercialized fuel cell vehicles in 2013 with the release of the world’s first free-to-market hydrogen-powered vehicle, ix35 Fuel Cell. Nexo is its second-generation FCEV with a claimed 609-kilometer (378 mile) range on a single charge emits only clean water vapor and purifies the air while driving, filtering 99.9% of ultra-fine particles in the process.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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