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Hyundai Look To The Future With Hydrogen Fuel Cells And Self-Driving Cars

The auto manufacturer Hyundai are set to push the boundaries of car technology in the next few years with hydrogen fuel cells and autonomous vehicles with example vehicles already in the pipeline.
Posted: December 22, 2016 - 5:31AM
Author: Dave Ashton

The current car climate is almost like the early days of car manufacture and electricity, where companies were scrapping it out to standardise the various technologies and hope their ideas would become the de facto standard from then on. Hyundai have clearly bet on hydrogen as a fuel source for the future and like many auto manufacturers are heavily investing in autonomous vehicles.

Why Hydrogen?
If you check out Hyundai's website featuring hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, they outline the reasons for going down this path, such as hydrogen making up '75% of the universe we live in,' 'passing hydrogen through a fuel cell creates energy much more efficiently than the chemicals used in gasoline' and one to counter the upcoming battery-powered vehicles, 'It can also store the energy it creates unlike the electricity needed to power electric cars.' The other benefits they say is range and fuelling, with a hydrogen vehicle taking three minutes to fully refuel and has a range of 369 miles as opposed to an electric vehicle taking a minimum of 30 minutes to recharge and currently has around a 200 miles range.

As with battery-powered vehicles hydrogen refuelling is a big concern however, a hydrogen-fueling infrastructure is being rolled out by H2USA part of the US Department of Energy, with for example California having 27 hydrogen stations by the end of 2016 and 74 by the end of 2020. Japan is also pushing in this area with 80 hydrogen filling stations as of now, with many more to come before the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Hyundai's first hydrogen fuel cell vehicles came out in February 2013 with the ix35 FCEV, with the Tucson FCEV being imported from April 2014. The latest generation of the Tucson hydrogen SUV can now be pre-ordered for $499 a month with a $2999, 36 month lease, which has a 265 mile range, and a 0-62 mph time of 12.5 seconds. This however maybe slow for performance aficionados with the likes of the Tesla model S promising 0-60mph in only 2.5 seconds for the P100D with Ludicrous Mode. The vehicle will also have smaller fuel cells requiring less platinum.

Not everybody agrees with the hydrogen route for the next generation of electric vehicles, one obviously being Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has stated in the past that hydrogen vehicles are, 'fool-cell vehicles,' with a concern about the long-term safety of hydrogen cars, the refuelling infrastructure and the nonrenewable nature of the technology. Some of the concerns are founded and some not, but it is really down to the eventual take-up by the market and marketing of the vehicles for which ones will win out at the end. Hydrogen powered vehicles are on the up and up, just like their battery-powered equivalents, so watch this space.

The future will be autonomous driving
The idea of being chauffeured to work in the mornings by a self driving vehicle and to have a car which can detect its surroundings to stop all manner of accidents seems to be the other way forward for not just Hyundai, but the majority of auto manufacturers.

The Hyundai Ioniq Autonomous Concept vehicle recently drove itself on a three-mile loop around Las Vegas Convention Centre in both the day and night to prove its worth and performed without a hitch. You will not be seeing any self driving vehicles in the next year or two from Hyundai, with a releases planned around 2020-21. As with other self driving vehicles, the car has a host of sensors and cameras to track its environment and with the technologies associated coming down in cost every year, such as a laser diode lidar which could cost less than $50 as opposed to a lidar scanner at $8000, the eventual price will eventually be more in line with present gasoline powered vehicles.

The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq will incrementally step up to autonomous driving with first a plug-in hybrid to take on the likes of the Toyota Prius, then moving on to fully autonomous driving in the years to come. Hyundai have Already joined with the likes of Nissan, Toyota, GM, BMW, Volkswagen and Volvo in a consortium to work on autonomous driving, along with technology companies such as Intel, Ericsson, Qualcomm and Nokia, which means the future is looking bright in this area for the next few years for the company. Hyundai have also acquired autonomous driving test licenses for the Ioniq from Nevada State as of October.


Kafantaris (not verified)    January 9, 2017 - 6:12AM

Battery cars are relatively simple vehicles, which is why a century ago their development preceded gasoline cars. Though they came a long way since then, battery cars still need to be charged, and with raw power made elsewhere. Such is not the case with hydrogen cars -- or gasoline cars for that matter -- which make their power from the fuel they carry onboard. Automotive engineers took this nagging fact into account, and took into account also the finite capacity of our electric grid. They rightly concluded that there is an inherent limitation with battery cars -- one that does not go away with high capacity batteries or with fast chargers.
This might explain why 62% of automotive executives believe battery-powered cars will fail and 78% believe hydrogen fuel cell cars are the future.