The name is fine, sounds like you’re “next o” or something, but the 370 miles of range is a noteworthy improvement over the current Tucson fuel cell’s 265 miles. The extra mileage comes thanks to three big cylindrical tanks stowed under the NEXO’s floor and seats. Hyundai says the onboard tank farm doesn’t intrude on interior space, claiming the space inside matches that of a gasoline-powered equivalent CUV.
To make room for all that H2, Hyundai built an entirely new platform for this FCV, a not-inexpensive proposition. There was much debate internally as to whether it was worth investing all that money in what will at first be a low-volume crossover. But word is Hyundai chairman Chung Mong-koo wanted it and what Chung Mong-koo wants, he gets. So they built it. Hyundai doesn’t need the fuel-cell vehicle to meet California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate, since it sells enough ioniq electric cars to meet that requirement. So the company must see hydrogen as the future. Unless it sees electricity as the future, a propulsion option it offers in its ioniq and coming Kona EVs.
“NEXO embodies everything we have learned in five years of the Tucson fuel-cell vehicle,” said senior vice president of Hyundai’s Eco Technology Center Ki Sang Lee.
Toyota is one of several automakers experimenting with hydrogen fuel cell technology as a form of zero-emission transportation, and it’s one of just a couple offering hydrogen cars to the general …
The NEXO’s electric motor has a 120-kW output, or 161 hp, along with 291 lb-ft of torque, figures which Lee says are comparable to the company’s internal combustion engine for an equivalent-size CUV. It can also start at temperatures below minus-20 degrees Fahrenheit, which the Tucson fuel cell couldn’t do. The NEXO’s 0-60 time is 9.5 seconds, 20 percent faster than the Tucson FCV.
The NEXO will also feature a few technological functions recently developed by Hyundai like a blind-spot monitor that uses three cameras to show the driver rear and side views on the center cluster screen during lane changes. Lane Follow Assist keeps the NEXO between the lines at speeds up to 90 mph. With Remote Smart Parking Assist, it’ll even park itself with or without a driver in it.
NEXO is just one of 18 eco vehicles that Hyundai will market by 2025, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery electrics and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. It plans to do this despite what Woong-chul Yang, vice chairman of Hyundai R&D, says is a money-losing deal.
“We lose money on every eco vehicle we sell,” he said during a roundtable at CES. “Selling product, losing money, it’s not good business.”
Unless his boss, Mong-koo, is right about hydrogen being the future. In that case, it’s a smart investment. Check back with us in 10 or 15 years and we’ll have an answer to that.