Wraps off new Hyundai fuel-cell SUV
Tucson-sized FE promises more power and range at a lower cost
HYUNDAI showcased its new FE Fuel Cell Concept at last week’s Geneva Motor Show, previewing its next-generation hydrogen-powered SUV that’s due in 2018.
The FE is a crossover that features ultra-slim headlights, complex surfacing around the leading edges of the front wings and a sloping roofline that incorporates aerodynamic strakes across its supporting C-pillars.
The dramatically lit cabin has a dual-screen set-up which shoulders an instrument display and the navigation system at the top of the facia. A further screen in the centre console appears to be designed for use as an infotainment system and smartphone controller.
Hyundai isn’t saying if the FE directly previews a production model’s shape – but it does claim “elements will influence an SUV fuel-cell model set for launch in 2018”.
Auto Express understands that the production model will adopt a more conventional SUV body and styling cues, not too dissimilar to the Tucson crossover.
However, the Korean brand has confirmed that the concept is designed to demonstrate how it is making progress in reducing the size, complexity and cost of the ‘stack’ – the chemical reaction chamber that’s at the heart of any fuel-cell vehicle.
The FE showcases the fourth generation of Hyundai’s fuel cell, in fact. And this is 20 per cent lighter and 10 per cent more efficient than the current set-up in the ix35.
The stack itself gets a 30 per cent boost in power density, too – enough to increase the range of the car to almost 500 miles between hydrogen refuelling stops. This technology is widely expected to form the basis for Hyundai’s next fuel cell, as the firm moves away from adapting existing cars to basing new hydrogen-fuelled models on a bespoke architecture.
Speaking exclusively to Auto Express last year, Tae Won Lim, senior vice president of Hyundai’s Central Advanced Research and Engineering Institute, said: “Our target is to develop a cheaper, more durable, more reliable and more efficient system. It will be an all-new platform, special design and easy to assemble.”
The concept recycles some of the water emitted at the FE’S tailpipe; an internal air humidifier uses it to improve the cabin environment. It also features portable battery packs that are charged by the car’s energy output and are able to power passenger devices, such as a laptop or a smartphone. In addition, the boot features integrated storage and charging space for an electric scooter.
No specific launch date in 2018 has been given for the new Hyundai fuelcell vehicle, but it’s expected to be significantly cheaper than the existing ix35, which costs around £50,000 and has sold in small numbers.
“This fourth-generation fuel cell is 20 per cent lighter and 10 per cent more efficient than before”
FE concept is similar in size to Tucson crossover, but will be a standalone model