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Hyundai Nexo FCEV: hydrogen gathers steam in Australia

John Law

Hyundai Australia has announced the arrival of the country’s first-ever fleet of hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles, comprising of 20 of the brand’s Nexo, along with more info about the fuel’s future Downunder.

Destined to be used by the ACT government, the 20 Nexo vehicles are accompanied by the first hydrogen fueling station in Canberra – opening in the third quarter of this year.

More stations will follow shortly to supplement the Canberra and Sydney-based Hyundai HQ locations. Future stations are slated for NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania.

2021 Hyundai Nexo FCEV - 2
The fleet of Nexos at Hyundai HQ in Sydney.

Hyundai’s Nexo marks a turning point for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in Australia as these 20 cars bound for government use are fully compliant with Australian Design Rule (ADR).

That means in the not-so-distant future, hydrogen-powered electric vehicles like the Nexo will be able to provide longer range alternatives to cars like the Nissan Leaf, Honda E and Hyundai’s own Ioniq range. In tandem with the Ioniq, Hyundai is unique in offering a diverse selection of green powertrains.

As for other Hydrogen alternatives, Toyota’s Mirai shows off a promising future for the Japanese brand, but production FCEVs are still few and far between.

2021 Hyundai Nexo FCEV - 4
Here at Chasing Cars we like the look, even if it is weird.

But what is that claimed range? Well, Hyundai claims a WLTP certified 666km range for the Nexo, which is at the pointy end of EVs currently. Naturally, with Australia’s long distances, this is likely to make the Nexo a more realistic proposition for local motorists.

As for outputs, the Nexo powers the front wheels through a single-speed gearbox, the electric motor is capable of a modest 120kW and 395Nm.

Unlike electricity, hydrogen fueling stations are more laborious to construct, there’s no existing hydrogen network in Australia, and it will likely be an expensive technology to start.

2021 Hyundai Nexo FCEV - 5
No emissions, well, one actually, just water.

There are upsides – compared to the 45 minutes it will take for the coming Audi e-tron to reach 100% and that car’s claimed 400km of range, the Nexo can be brimmed in a mere three to five minutes, says Hyundai.

Similarly, being an electric vehicle, the Nexo provides silent transport and the instant responsiveness of battery EVs we’re quickly growing to love.

To boot, the Hyundai Nexo looks pretty wicked, too. The taller SUV look suits the inclusion of a low-slung fuel cell nicely, with a front bumper that is both unique but still touts the family lineage of contemporary Hyundais.

2021 Hyundai Nexo FCEV - 1
Does the Nexo show the future of Hyundai interior design? We hope so.

What is a departure from the Korean brand’s comfort zone is the interior – in place of the 8-inch touchscreen found in just about every other Hyundai is a pair of digital screens seamlessly integrated into the dashboard.

Further, the centre console floats above the floor housing a collection of shortcut buttons and drive-mode selectors, opening up storage space below. On a side note, we hope the futuristic Nexo signals a change in direction for both Hyundai and Genesis interior design.

Jun Heo, CEO of Hyundai Australia, said about the Nexo: “for a long time, hydrogen has been touted as the fuel of the future. However, with the arrival of a fleet of NEXO FCEVs for the Australian Capital Territory Government, we’re pleased to say that it’s now the fuel of today,”.

2021 Hyundai Nexo FCEV - 3
Hyundai Australia wants to help get Australia to the forefront of hydrogen tech by 2030.

Indeed a positive assertion, Hyundai Australia says they’re keen to work closely with the government over the coming year to establish the country at “the forefront of the global hydrogen industry by 2030.”

Perhaps the icing on the cake for Hyundai is that the Nexo has not only sailed through the stringent ADR approval process but scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating in the process.

For now, the Nexo will be limited to government use in the ACT, though customers will be able to order Nexos for private use in the not-too-distant future.