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Driven: Hyundai launches hydrogen-powered Nexo

Hyundai Nexo FCEV available via lease only and a sign of eco-friendly cars to come

26 Mar 2021

HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) has finally launched its hydrogen-powered Nexo SUV with the eco-friendly family hauler being offered locally in just the single, “highly specified” guise.


In terms of size, the Nexo occupies a similar corner of the market to HMCA’s existing Tucson mid-sized SUV with the obvious point of difference being its FCEV (fuel cell electric) drivetrain.


Rather than relying on a battery to supply power to an electric motor, the Nexo utilises a hydrogen fuel cell to generate electricity for the on-board electric motor while a 1.65kWH lithium-ion polymer battery is fitted to essentially catch and redistribute the excess energy.


When all said and done, the Nexo develops 120kW/395Nm and boasts an effective range of up to 666km on the WLTP cycle.


Just like with a standard internal combustion vehicle, the driver fills the on-board tanks (150 litres) with fuel – hydrogen in this case – from a designated hydrogen station and they are good to go.


Drive is sent exclusively to the front wheels.


Also unlike the Tucson, the Nexo is unable to be purchased straight off the showroom floor.


Instead, private and fleet customers alike will have to lease the vehicle(s) via special order only with the total cost reportedly being similar to the lease of “a large SUV”.


According to HMCA, the initial allocation of Nexos is being aimed at businesses and fleet buyers before targeting private buyers in the second half of the year.


Regardless, the brand has ensured the locally delivered Nexos are up to date with all the latest standard equipment and safety trends, including its SmartSense safety suite.


Standard equipment highlights on the Nexo include 19-inch alloy wheels, leather appointed interior, a 12.3-inch multimedia system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Krell premium sound system, a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster, wireless phone charging, glass sunroof, LED head- and daytime running lights, a reversing camera, remote start, heated and ventilated front seats with power adjustment, dual-zone climate control, a power tailgate and tyre pressure monitoring.


Naturally the Nexo has also been treated to HMCA’s usual local chassis and suspension tuning with one of the biggest challenges being to ensure suitable noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels given the almost silent powertrain.


“The platform was designed to address this challenge, with an extensive use of lightweight parts for the strut front and multi-link rear suspensions, such as aluminium knuckles and lower control arms,” HMCA product planning and development specialist Tim Rodgers said.


“Beyond achieving this, the tuning program targeted the normal ride and handling benchmarks, to give Nexo the same style of body control we tune into all our cars, and the same level of competency on Australia’s notoriously challenging back roads.”


The SmartSense comes with all of the now familiar – and essential – features including forward collision-avoidance assist, driver attention warning, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, high beam assist, lane keeping assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, smart cruise control with lane follow assist and lead vehicle departure warning, a surround-view monitor, smart parking assist and remote smart parking assist.


HMCA says the arrival of the Nexo Down Under is a milestone in its ‘eco mobility mission’ with Hyundai Motor Company (HMC) CEO Jun Heo describing the car as “a cornerstone in the Hyundai portfolio”.


“Nexo is also a sign of things to come, as Hyundai continues in its long-term drive towards leadership in eco-friendly vehicles,” he said.


According to HMCA coordinating director Scott Yoon, the brand has “high aspirations for not only Nexo, but hydrogen vehicles in general” with corporate communications general manager Bill Thomas adding that FCEVs and BEVs were complementary, hence the brand is investing in both technologies.


In November last year HMC announced a new partnership with British start-up Ineos Automotive to explore and develop the production and supply of hydrogen with the fuel type currently being among the hardest to source and distribute.

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