Wraps off new Hyundai fuel-cell SUV

Tuc­son-sized FE prom­ises more power and range at a lower cost

Auto Express - - Contents - John Mcil­roy John_m­cil­roy@den­nis.co.uk @john­m­cil­roy

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

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