Hyundai, part of a very exclusive club offering hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the U.S., has followed its initial Tucson FCEV with the all-new Nexo. It’s available only in California where hydrogen fueling opportunities, while limited, exist in greater numbers compared to other states.
The Nexo represents a step forward for FCEVs in that Hyundai is selling the 5-passenger hatchback and not just leasing it, as is typically the case with hydrogen vehicles. It also uses a purpose-built platform rather than being based on an existing model like the Tucson FCEV.
As a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the Nexo’s fuel cell takes in hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity for powering an electric motor, with zero emissions. The heart of the Nexo is its 95-kW proton-exchange membrane fuel cell stack and 1.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. These supply electricity to a 161-horsepower, 291 lb-ft AC induction motor located beneath the hood. Power is transferred to the road through a single-speed, direct-drive gearbox. Hydrogen is stored in three 10,000 psi tanks with a total capacity of 156 liters, delivering an EPA estimated driving range up to 380 miles.
Hyundai reduced the size and weight of the fuel cell compared to that used in the earlier Tucson FCEV. The new fuel cell uses only 56 grams of expensive platinum rather than the Tucson’s 78 grams. Hyundai also improved cold-weather performance so the fuel cell starts in temperatures as low as -22 degrees F. Like the Tucson and other fuel cell vehicles, refueling with hydrogen can be done in as little as five minutes.