Hyundai not too long ago invited me to drive its upcoming hydrogen gasoline cell automobile (FCEV) from Los Angeles to CES 2018 in Las Vegas. The prototype, nonetheless unnamed however seen undisguised for the primary time, previews a hydrogen-fueled small SUV that may hit Californian roads in late 2018, in line with Hyundai’s estimates.
Two Lyfts and a flight later, I discovered myself face to fascia with the prototype. It debuts a brand new design philosophy, with slim LED headlights, a broad grille and a squinting rear finish. The door handles disguise away when locked, very like a Tesla Mannequin S. There is a new inside remedy, new tech to find and, in fact, the revised gasoline cell powertrain.
I used to be able to find out about all of this from behind the wheel throughout the roughly 240-mile journey from the Hyundai America Technical Heart in Chino, California to the Vegas Strip.
The FCEV prototype
However first, I needed to get a little bit of background. The prototype builds on expertise Hyundai has gained since beginning its gasoline cell program again in 1998 and from the more moderen Tucson FCEV lease program, which has been working since 2014. This prototype, nevertheless, rides on a brand new devoted gasoline cell platform.
For starters, the FCEV makes use of three similar small 700-bar hydrogen tanks, quite than the Tucson’s two mismatched models. The brand new packaging’s 156.6-liter capability holds 12 p.c extra hydrogen gasoline whereas weighing 13 p.c much less (245 kilos whole) than the earlier setup. It additionally implies that the tanks intrude much less vertically, liberating up house above to maneuver the lithium-ion battery with out compromising cargo capability.
The 1.56 kWh lithium-ion pack is about 64 p.c extra capacious than earlier than. Judging by the numbers, I might reckon this is identical lithium-ion polymer unit discovered within the Ioniq Hybrid, which implies it additionally integrates a small 12-volt accent battery into the bigger unit, permitting it to ditch the normal lead-acid battery and pull off the trick of soar beginning itself in an emergency.
A much bigger battery means Hyundai was in a position to make extra beneficiant use of regenerative braking. On the steering wheel, you will discover paddle shifters much like these of the Ioniq Electrical that toggle between three ranges of regen. Probably the most aggressive mode does not fairly replicate the “one-foot driving” really feel of a pure EV, however it comes shut.
Driving the wheels, the prototype’s 120 kW (about 161 horsepower) e-motor is extra highly effective than the previous 100 kW unit and outputs about 70 pound-feet extra at 291 torques. That is good for a zero to 60 mph dash of 9.9 seconds — two ticks quicker than the older automobile and never too unhealthy for a compact eco SUV.
As a result of the e-motor can draw extra deeply from the bigger battery pack, the automaker was additionally in a position to retune its gasoline cell stack — the bit that does the precise chemistry of changing hydrogen into water vapor and electrical energy — for improved effectivity. The brand new stack is smaller, lighter and now built-in with the e-motor for a extra compact general package deal.
Output from the gasoline cell stack is down a bit at 95 kW versus the previous Tucson’s 100 kW stack, however that is OK, as a result of the larger battery and massaged vitality administration make up the distinction. The web result’s that effectivity is as much as a vaguely said “55-plus mpge.” (We must always be taught extra specifics subsequent week at CES.) That is a bit in need of the roughly 67 mpge claimed by theand Mirai.
The Hyundai ought to have a spread benefit, up a claimed 30 p.c to “greater than 350 miles” on the EPA’s take a look at cycle. That is a 30 p.c improve (85 extra miles per 5-minute fill-up), which is nice given the relative rarity of hydrogen filling stations in lots of areas. It additionally needs to be greater than sufficient to get us to Vegas.
Subsequent-gen Blue Hyperlink tech
My shift wasn’t till the journey’s second leg, so I used to be in a position to sit back for some time and take within the new cabin.
The FCEV greets the driving force with a large black dashboard that homes a pair of LCD screens, not dissimilar to what we have seen in essentially the most. One display screen is a digital instrument cluster that shows velocity, gasoline stage and an eco-driving gauge that lets you know the way effectively you are driving. The second display screen is a brand new model of Hyundai’s Blue Hyperlink infotainment and is usually acquainted from what I’ve seen throughout the automaker’s present fleet. There’s a new split-screen perform and a brand new multipane residence display screen, each similar to .
Under the show is a large floating heart console with a plethora of bodily buttons for drive modes, local weather controls and extra, and a bodily management knob that will also be used to entry Blue Hyperlink features.
Behind the wheel
After a fast cease for lunch, I used to be lastly handed the keys to the SUV with, sadly, a freshly reset journey laptop. About 150 miles lay between me and my vacation spot.
However first, I needed to cooperate with Hyundai’s wants for video and images. That entailed about 17 miles of gradual driving (roughly 45 to 55 mph) backwards and forwards on a principally abandoned highway. Happily, that is the place electrified automobiles do their finest work, so I used to be as much as a median of 60.three mpge earlier than really merging on to I-15 North in direction of Vegas.
The very first thing that I famous whereas merging was the sleek acceleration. Passing energy was good and, as soon as as much as my cruising velocity of 72 mph, the FCEV was quiet. Having spent a great deal of time behind the wheel of electrified and gasoline cell automobiles, this wasn’t shocking.
What was shocking was the shortage of compressor hum or whine that you simply generally get with gasoline cell automobiles. Within the, for instance, I might hear a bit turbo-like whistle when accelerating onerous. The Hyundai prototype made no such noise — not a sport changer, however value noting.
Although lighter than earlier than, the load of the FCEV is clear within the journey high quality. It is a clean journey with gentle steering effort, however that is nonetheless a heavy automobile with batteries, hydrogen tanks, electronics and three grownup passengers. Being extra involved with economic system than dynamics for this take a look at drive, I did not do any lane-change assessments on public roads and simply loved the quite boring 2-hour freeway cruise by the desert, previous Mountain Cross and over the Nevada border.
Arriving at our vacation spot on the Las Vegas Strip, I checked the journey laptop and was knowledgeable that I might averaged 53.1 mpge for the journey. That is simply in need of Hyundai’s “55-plus mpge” estimate, however not unhealthy contemplating the elevation change, velocity and payload of three adults and baggage. On a flatter, extra city cycle, I might see 55 to 60 mpge being very attainable.
The semiautonomous future
The FCEV can also be deliberate to be a flagship for the automaker’s semiautonomous and driver support applied sciences.
It can debut with Hyundai’s new Lane Comply with Help (LFA) and Freeway Driving Help (HDA) applied sciences, evolutions of lane-keeping steering help made extra correct. HDA is a hands-on SAE Stage 2 semiautonomous system that may lane heart, quite than simply backwards and forwards between the boundaries, utilizing digicam sensors, high-accuracy GPS and map information. Hyundai says the GPS and map information permits this method to take care of lane centering even when the lane markers aren’t seen, which I’ll should see to consider.
The FCEV can also boast Distant Sensible Parking Help, which permits the driving force to remotely park or summon the automobile from a parallel or perpendicular parking spot from outdoors of the automobile. That is helpful for slotting the automobile into tight garages or areas the place the doorways can be blocked. Final availability of any of those semiautonomous options will rely upon rules in numerous nations all over the world.
The mannequin additionally will debut a brand new Blind-spot View Monitor (BVM) system. It is much like Honda’s LaneWatch digicam system, however Hyundai’s BVM works on either side of the automobile, quite than simply the passenger facet, and shows its blind-spot feed within the instrument cluster quite than the middle show. I prompt graphic overlay can be helpful for judging distances when merging, so you’ll be able to thank me if it makes its approach into the ultimate product.
The prototype exhibits promise however will undergo just a few extra revisions and take a look at cycles earlier than it is prepared for mass manufacture. Hyundai tells me it is concentrating on a This fall 2018 gross sales window. I am going to have the ability to share extra concerning the FCEV together with extra particular gasoline economic system estimates, the official title and, hopefully, Hyundai’s plans for coping with infrastructure and hydrogen gasoline prices when the mannequin formally debuts on Tuesday at CES 2018.
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