Australia’s first hydrogen-powered car has smashed international records in a single-tank trip that showcased the potential of the emerging technology.
Hyundai Australia has set a new world record by driving 887.5km on a single tank of hydrogen in the Nexo midsize SUV.
With Australian Hyundai rally driver Brendan Reeves at the wheel, the production-spec Nexo took off from Essendon Fields in Melbourne and arrived in Broken Hill, on the NSW border, with 807km on the odometer.
Reeves kept driving until the hydrogen-powered SUV finally ran out of puff at the 887.5km mark and in doing so exceeded the previous record also set by a Nexo in France that clocked up 778km.
The Hyundai Nexo has an official claimed range of 666km according to conservative WLTP testing, but the experiment clearly shows the SUV has more in the tank than first thought.
It should be noted that Reeves drove the Nexo efficiency in mind, using a very light right foot with no stereo or air conditioning allowed and had the windows up the whole time except for when he needed some air.
What’s more, an onboard GPS showed the Nexo actually drove 903.4km while using a total of 6.27kg of hydrogen but Hyundai opted to use the reading from the odometer instead.
Reeves said he used a combination of his rally driving skills and know-how from his dad’s truck driving days to maximise the range.
“I was constantly checking the Nexo’s efficiency readout to maximise the distance I was getting per kilogram of hydrogen,” he said.
“I found that by using techniques from rally driving, such as looking as far down the road as possible, as well as tips I have learned from my dad for driving a truck efficiently over long distances, it’s actually possible to go way beyond Nexo’s official range.”
Hydrogen infrastructure is quite limited in Australia with currently only one public station available just outside of Canberra – with another built by Toyota in Melbourne to power its fleet of Mirai sedans.
Guido Schenken, the PR, sponsorship & events senior manager at Hyundai Australia told Chasing Cars the test showed that the Nexo was capable of interstate travel.
He said the route between Canberra and the station in Melbourne “should be achievable if one was to employ some basic eco driving techniques”.
While the Hyundai Nexo and Toyota Mirai are the only two hydrogen cars available in Australia, the technology has shown it is capable of achieving a range figure only seen in a handful of battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV).
Unlike BEVs, hydrogen can also be topped up within 3-5 minutes whereas most EVs using the fastest 350kW charger will still take over 30 minutes before they are fully charged.
Despite this, EVs still remain the more popular choice partly due to the ease of filling up with even the infamously small charging network in Australia much larger by comparison than the hydrogen network.
Hyundai Australia future mobility chief Scott Nargar previously told Chasing Cars he believed hydrogen would primarily be used in commercial vehicles in the future but also expected to see more passenger vehicles incorporate the technology as well.
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