The Hyundai Nexo Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) has formally launched in Australia, making it the first hydrogen-powered vehicle certified for sale here.
Now available by special order through Hyundai, the Nexo medium SUV comes ready to take on Australian roads with locally tuned suspension and up to 666km driving range between visits to hydrogen fuel stations.
Potential customers should note, however, that the Hyundai Nexo purchase process isn’t as straightforward as fronting up to your local dealer; it is currently offered as an all-inclusive loan programme, covering service and maintenance.
Think of it as a leasing arrangement, and you'll need to reach out to Hyundai directly to apply. In terms of costs, Hyundai wouldn't offer specific numbers because of the various factors involved in the all-inclusive deal – but we were told to think of it as being equivalent to leasing a large SUV.
For those who take up the deal, Hyundai promises spirited performance through the Hydrogen Fuel Cell powertrain, which features a 120kW/395Nm electric motor drive and a lithium-ion polymer battery, with Shift by Wire gear selection and paddle shifter control for the regenerative braking system.
With an aerodynamic form that embraces design cues from Hyundai’s LE Fuel Cell Concept, the Nexo stands out with LED headlight design that runs across the entire front end.
Practical design elements to aid efficiency include underbody air-guides and deflectors that run along the full length to regulate clean airflow, while numerous air-guides and smooth surfaces have been applied to the body.
Hidden aero wipers are used at the front and rear, a Hyundai first which will flow on to other products.
The door handles and 19-inch alloy wheels have also been designed with efficiency in mind, with all aero measures combining to give the NEXO a co-efficient of drag of 0.32 – which represents a 10 per cent improvement over Hyundai’s first hydrogen vehicle, the ix35 FCEV.
The Nexo is available in four exterior colours, with White Cream Mica and Dusk Blue Metallic teamed with a Stone Grey two-tone interior, and Cocoon Silver and Copper Metallic teamed with a Dark Blue interior.
The Nexo’s futuristic theme continues indoors, with the interior produced mostly from bioplastics, 34kg of which are applied in the form of the trims, carpet, headliner, door trims, seats and console.
Vegetable oil-derived bio-paints are also used throughout the cabin, along with bio-fibres made using corn and sugarcane waste material.
According to Hyundai, the use of bio materials contributes to a 12kg reduction in CO2 per vehicle during manufacture.
The interior design is dominated by wide, integrated displays and an ergonomic high-mount bridge-type centre console.
Available here in a single premium-specification grade, the Nexo is equipped with a panoramic 12.3-inch satellite infotainment that runs into a 7.0-inch digital driver display.
As well as in-built satellite navigation, 360-degree parking monitor, vehicle systems and synced content via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, the multimedia system tracks eco-driving performance and will direct you to hydrogen refuelling stations via the in-built sat-nav, allowing route planning and range calculation as you drive.
It will even play a video that explains how the FCEV powertrain works.
Other interior features include leather-appointed upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated, heated rear outboard seats and a heated steering wheel, Krell premium audio system, full-width glass sunroof, wireless smartphone charger.
Creature comforts include leather appointed interior, power adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated, heated rear outboard seats and a heated steering wheel.
It also comes with a full arsenal of Hyundai’s ‘SmartSense’ active safety suite, including autonomous emergency braking, driver attention warning, a radar-based blind-spot collision avoidance assist system, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, and adaptive cruise control with ‘Stop & Go’.
The Nexo also has remote smart parking assist system (RSPAS) that uses ultrasonic sensors, allowing it to be moved in and out of parking spaces from outside the vehicle, using controls on the Smart Key.
Once parked using RSPAS, the vehicle can be shut down and locked without the need to re-enter the cabin.
The Nexo’s FCEV powertrain consists of an electric motor that draws motivation from a 95kW fuel cell system, which harnesses energy created by the hydrogen fuel reacting with oxygen across a catalyst to send a sustained 135kW of power to the motor.
As well as producing electricity, the fuel cell produces pure water and purified air – the only tailpipe outputs – which allows the exhaust system to me made from light plastic.
Excess electric energy – and electric energy recuperated during braking – is stored in a 240V, 1.56kWh lithium-ion polymer battery that, unlike battery electric vehicles (BEVs), does not power the motor, with the electricity used to run the Nexo’s on-board 12-volt systems.
The battery is packaged flat and low in the rear of the Nexo to allow a flat floor storage area, which allows for 461-litre boot space.
The hydrogen is stored in three high-pressure fuel tanks built into the rear of Nexo, with a combined 156-litre capacity and the ability to hold up to 6.33kg of hydrogen at a pressure of 700 bar.
According to Hyundai, the high-strength, lightweight advanced carbon composite tanks are tested to ensure they maintain structural integrity in the most challenging conditions, including collisions.
The tanks can be refilled in minutes at a hydrogen refuelling station, allowing users to experience the same down-time between drives as with petrol and diesel vehicles.
The Nexo is built on lightweight underpinnings that include an aluminium bumper beam, front knuckles, rear wheel carriers and front lower control arms, which Hyundai says bring improved dynamics and efficiency.
In addition, the lightweight suspension components bring reduced cabin noise and improved ride and handling characteristics that have been further enhanced to meet the demands of Australian city, highway, country and gravel roads.
For more on the Nexo's capabilities, watch for our review to land later this week.