GENEVA -- Hyundai has revealed a fuel cell SUV concept that previews a stand-alone model due at the beginning of next year that will replace the ix35 Fuel Cell SUV. Unlike that car, which is a rework of the company's compact SUV, the production version of the FE Fuel Cell Concept will be a unique model in Hyundai's lineup.
“We wanted a specific design to give the fuel cell its own identity,” Hyundai Europe Chief Operating Officer Thomas Schmidt told Automotive News Europe on the sidelines of the car's unveiling at the auto show here.
To make the concept as fuel efficient as possible Hyundai enhanced its aerodynamics by having the door handles sit flush with the body. The handles only extend when needed.
The car's fuel cell stack is 10 percent more efficient, 20 percent lighter and has a 30 percent greater power density compared with the ix35 FCEV (that is sold as the Tucson Fuel Cell in some markets), the company said. The concept's range is 800 km (about 500 miles) compared with about 600 km in the ix35 Fuel Cell.
The Hyundai ix35 FCEV starts at 65,450 euros (about $69,000) in Germany, one of 17 global market where the car is sold. The cost is about twice that of an equivalent compact SUV. Hyundai says the price of the production version of the FE Fuel Cell Concept will remain high.
“The technology is extremely expensive because you don't get the scaling and because the numbers produced are relatively low,” Schmidt said. “We producing hundreds annually, but all-new technology takes time” to come down in price.
The concept includes integrated storage and charging for an electric scooter, as well as portable battery packs to charge mobile devices. Some design features will be incorporated in the production car, Woong Chul Yong, Hyundai's head of R&D, said at the unveiling of the car, without being more specific.
The fuel cell is one of 14 new environmentally focused models the company will introduce by 2020, Hyundai said in a statement. Hyundai also unveiled the plug-in hybrid version of the Ioniq car at the Geneva show. The Korean automaker already sells hybrid and electric versions of the Prius rival in Europe.