Today’s automotive industry is all about rigid emission standards and electrification. However, purists would say that the only true zero-emission car is the one that uses hydrogen. Unfortunately, this technology is still costly, which is the main reason why most carmakers choose to develop much simpler and cheaper battery-electric cars.
Only a handful major carmakers continue to work on the hydrogen fuel technology, and Hyundai is one of them. The Korean manufacturer currently offers the Hyundai Nexo model. It’s interesting to note that this isn't the company's first hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. The previous generation of Tucson was also developed in such a variant.
The First Generation of Hyundai Nexo (2018-present)
As I've just mentioned, this isn't the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle from Hyundai. The Tucson or ix35 was also available in such a version, but the difference between the two models is significant. Here’s what - the Nexo isn't just a modification of an internal combustion car, but instead, it is built on purpose as a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle based on a specially designed platform.
That doesn't mean that Hyundai Nexo is odd in any way. Other than the powertrain, it features a pretty typical design, which perfectly matches contemporary industry standards. In other words, it comes with an SUV layout, the most popular body style among today's car buyers.
Also, the chassis offers everything you would expect from a modern crossover. At the front, you can find an independent McPherson strut layout, along with ventilating disc brakes. The rear end is as advanced as it comes with multi-link independent suspension and standard disc brakes.
Such a layout ensures a high level of comfort, though you shouldn't expect much if you prefer a sporty ride. The Nexo is heavier compared to similarly-sized cars with internal combustion engines. Still, the difference in weight is not as significant as you would expect. To put things in context, the heaviest Tucson is about 1.7kg, while the Nexo weighs between 1.814 and 1.873 kilograms.
Size-wise, the Nexo is a typical family SUV. It measures 4,670mm in total length, with a wheelbase of 2,790mm and ground clearance of 162mm.
Hyundai Nexo Dimensions
- Wheelbase: 2790mm
- Length: 4670mm
- Height: 1640mm
- Width: 1860mm
- Ground clearance: 162mm
- Kerb weight: 1814-1873kg
- Turning circle: 11.2m
Cutting production expenses by putting low-rent materials inside the cabin is one of the things happening in today's automotive industry. However, that's not the case with the Hyundai Nexo interior. Instead, its cabin looks really lovely, using plenty of quality materials and visibly high-level of build. Its list of standard and available equipment is quite long, allowing the buyer a wide range of options to choose from.
Among tech goodies, you will quickly notice a large 12.3-inch infotainment screen, while Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also standard. Another thing worth mentioning is Hyundai's Blue Link app, which offers several useful things, including a hydrogen fuel stations locator.
Powertrain and Performance
Hyundai Nexo is a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. If you're not familiar with how these vehicles work, here is a quick explanation. The hydrogen is stacked in tanks to supply a fuel cell stack. This is where hydrogen reacts with oxygen to produce electricity, which is then stored in a battery. Finally, the battery supplies the electric motor mounted on the axle with electric power. The only thing that comes out of the exhaust pipe is pure water.
In the case of Hyundai Nexo, there are three hydrogen tanks with a capacity of around 160 litres and 6.3 kilograms. The fuel cell stack has a capacity of 95 kWh, while the battery is good for about 1.56 kWh. Finally, there is the electric motor, with a max output of 120 kW and 395 Nm of max torque. That's enough to provide 0-100 sprint in about 8.5 seconds, which is a little quicker compared to Toyota Mirai. The Hyundai Nexo top speed goes up 180 km/h.
This setup doesn't provide spectacular acceleration and overall performance, but on the other hand, autonomy is excellent. You may count on more than 600-kilometre range, which beats every electric vehicle currently available on the market.
Hyundai Nexo Specification
- Power Source: Fuel-cell-powered electric motor
- Max Output: 120 kW
- Max Torque: 395 Nm
- Layout: Front-wheel drive
- Transmission: 1-speed
- Battery: 1.56 kWh
- Hydrogen Tank Capacity: 156L
- Acceleration (0-100km/h): 8.5s
- Max Range (claimed): 611 km
Why is the Hyundai Nexo so expensive?
We can talk all day long about the reasons, but they all lead to the same thing – there is still no mass production. The development of such vehicles cost a fortune, and no carmaker wants to lose money. As there is no mass production, the only way to be at least on positive zero is to put a high sticker price. Keep in mind that the costs don't just include vehicle development but hydrogen refuelling stations as well. To remind you, both Hyundai and Toyota already built hydrogen stations in Australia.
Private buyers and companies can lease this hydrogen model at the Hyundai Nexo price of $2,750 per month over three years. It’s worth mentioning that refuelling is also included in the price – for three years or 13,000 dollars, whichever comes first.
Is the Nexo worth buying?
It depends on how you look at things. If you look at Nexo as you would look at any petrol- or diesel-powered car, things don't look that appealing at all. The Nexo is more expensive than most premium-badged cars, but that's not the only issue. The fact that there are just three hydrogen refuelling stations Down Under is probably the biggest problem you'll have to deal with.
If poor infrastructure and high sticker price don't bother you, we see no reason why you shouldn't consider this SUV. You will definitely feel special that you’re driving a zero-emission car, which is also cheap to run. The Nexo is one of a kind, as other hydrogen fuel cell cars are sedans, which aren't so desirable these days.
Other than the powertrain, this crossover has all the qualities you would normally expect from a vehicle of this size. It is spacious, practical, comfortable, and well-equipped. Still, these aren’t the things that look like something to justify the price tag.
I hope those pieces of info and details helped you decide whether to buy a Hyundai Nexo or check out another make and model.
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By Nebojsa Grmusa