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Hyundai working on ground-up FCEV

It’s a gas: Hyundai’s first FCEV is based on the ix35 small SUV, but the next one will be based on its own ground-up design.

Unique platform being developed for Hyundai’s 2018 hydrogen car

Hyundai logo29 Sep 2016

By RON HAMMERTON in PARIS

HYUNDAI’S next-generation hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) will be built on a unique platform when it arrives as the South Korean company’s environmental flagship in 2018.

Already confirmed for Australia where the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government has done a deal for a fleet of 20 once it goes on sale, the unnamed vehicle will have a target driving range of 800 kilometres on a tank of hydrogen – making it theoretically capable of driving from Sydney to Melbourne without stopping.

Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) has been collaborating with rival Toyota Australia on ways to foster the necessary refuelling infrastructure for such vehicles.

They have been in joint talks with government representatives in recent weeks about how to move forward with the hydrogen vehicle introduction that both companies see as the way of the future.

Toyota is rolling out its Mirai FCEV globally, while Hyundai already has such a vehicle available in Korea and some other markets.

The current Hyundai FCEV is based on the ix35, but Hyundai insiders have told GoAuto that the next version will have its own unique architecture to better accommodate the hydrogen tank and fuel cells that convert the gas to electricity, with only water vapour being emitted from the exhaust pipe.

Hyundai’s other new green vehicle flag-waver, the electrified Ioniq small car that has been earmarked for sale in Australia from the second half of 2017, also has its own platform.

Globally, the Ioniq will be offered in three choices – Prius-style hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric. Australia is yet to announce which versions it will take, but appears to be leaning towards the plug-in hybrid.

In Paris, a fleet of Hyundai FCEV taxis are already on the streets. Australian journalists are being ferried to and from the Paris motor show in the taxis, which, to all intents and purposes, operate the same as normal internal combustion engine vehicles only quieter.

One of the taxi drivers, Dominique, told GoAuto she could drive a whole shift on one tank of hydrogen, covering up to 500km through stop-start Paris traffic.

She said she only needed to refuel at the end of the shift so the next driver could start without delay.

So far, Paris has just one hydrogen refuelling station, in downtown Paris near the Seine River, where it makes a statement to the public about green motoring.

Paris officials are keen to reduce the numbers of diesel vehicles on the streets of the French capital to reduce pollution and encourage environmentally sound cars.

For taxis, electric vehicles with their limited range and long charging times make no sense, but the range and seven-minute refuelling time of FCEVs is a good fit.

While critics of FCEVs point out that hydrogen to fuel requires energy in the manufacturing process, the ACT government is planning to use wind energy to generate the gas plant.

In its announcement in August, the ACT said its Hornsdale Wind Farm stage 3 would supply renewable energy to a Siemens hydrogen refueller capable of powering 1000 FCEVs.

So far, HMCA has only one FCEV in the country – a left-hand-drive ix35 for trial purposes – but has committed to introducing the next version, probably in late 2018.

HMCA public relations manager Bill Thomas told GoAuto that FCEV sales figures would be low, perhaps up to 60 a year, but that the vehicle would make a statement about Hyundai.

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