A long-shot in the electric car race.
Hyundai began delivery of its second-generation fuel cell SUV, the 2019 Hyundai Nexo this week. The first customer in Northern California to take delivery, obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Steven Vo, is a long-time zero-emissions vehicle enthusiast. Dr. Vo said, “This will be my third zero emissions vehicle; I cut my teeth with a Fiat 500 BEV, then moved to a Toyota Mirai (fuel cell). The Nexo will replace my Mirai.”
The Nexo is Hyundai’s newest Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV); it replaces the Tucson FCEV that was available in very limited numbers during the past five years.
A Rare and Exclusive Vehicle
The Nexo is somewhat of a bespoke unicorn of a vehicle as it is only available in the United States, Korea and the UK. In the U.S., it’s only available in California because of the planned 100 hydrogen refueling stations state-wide (39 are open so far), the most significant number of stations in the US.
The Nexo is Hyundai’s technology flagship and joins their other battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in Hyundai’s growing zero-emissions product portfolio.
The Nexo is perfectly clean, emitting only water from its tailpipe. The fuel cell converts its hydrogen fuel to electricity and as a byproduct emits just water. With a range of more than 380 miles on a tank of hydrogen, the Nexo can go further on a tank than even the longest-range battery electric vehicles on the road today and is on par with the average range of conventional ICE vehicles. Refueling in as little as five minutes, the Nexo also beats the fastest recharging times that BEVs can achieve today and has refueling parity with ICE vehicles, too.
The Most Advanced FCEV SUV Available Today
Built on a unique platform, the Nexo SUV has a second-generation fuel cell system and power train. It boasts a 95-kilowatt (kW) fuel cell stack paired with a 1.56-kilowatt-hour battery mated to a single 120-kW motor that delivers 291 pounds-feet of torque driving the front wheels. Its weight is comparable to larger BEVs, coming in at about 4000 pounds. Because of the newer compact storage tanks, it boasts 29.6 cubic feet of rear cargo capacity and seats 5 in comfort.
The Nexo has a very cutting-edge, tech-oriented interior that has some of the most advanced driver technology available. It has a full suite of advanced driver-assist systems, including forward collision avoidance assist, lane following assist, driver attention warning and high beam assist. It also offers Remote Smart Parking Assist, which enables Nexo to either autonomously park or retrieve itself from either a parallel or perpendicular parking space with or without a driver in the vehicle. Additionally, Hyundai’s Blind-Spot View Monitor is an industry-first technology that projects the side views of Nexo in the center cluster using cameras, while changing lanes with the turn signal on. It monitors area that cannot be seen by a traditional rearview mirror. The Nexo is manufactured with materials that are very eco-friendly, including soybean-oil based polyurethane paint, bamboo-thread-based bio fabric, along with bio-plastic and bio-carpet extracted from sugar cane. Bio-based materials were applied to 47 different parts and reduced CO2 emissions by 26 pounds during the manufacturing process.
Buy or Lease
The Nexo comes in two versions, with pricing starting at $58,300 or leasing for as little as $399 plus tax for 36 months. The Nexo qualifies for the $7,500 federal tax credit, and a $5,000 California rebate. Included in the purchase or lease are hydrogen fuel fill-ups free of charge for the first three years.
The Nexo isn’t going to take the EV market by storm; it’s more of an acquired taste. For the Nexo to achieve significant market penetration even in EV-crazy California, there will need to be billions more invested in refueling infrastructure. It’s a chicken-and-egg problem, but with manufacturers like Hyundai pushing the envelope and California committing tens of millions of dollars to station construction and maintenance, there is always a chance.