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Hyundai’s 190km self-driving journey

A fleet of Hyundai Motor Company’s next generation fuel cell electric cars have succeeded in completing a self-driven 190km journey from Seoul to Pyeongchang.

This is the first time in the world that level 4 autonomous driving has been achieved with fuel cell electric cars.

Prior to this, autonomous driving has been demonstrated at a limited speed on some sections of domestic roads, but this is the first-time autonomous cars have driven such a long distance at 100-110 km/h, the maximum speed allowed by law on Korean highways.

The demonstration started in Seoul on 2 February with the ‘CRUISE’ and ‘SET’ buttons being pressed on the autonomous-driving steering wheel of each vehicle, at which point the cars immediately switched to self-driving mode and began the 190km journey to Pyeongchang.

Entering the highway, the vehicles moved in response to the natural flow of traffic. They executed lane changes and overtaking manoeuvres, and navigated toll gates using Hi-pass, South-Korea’s wireless expressway payment system.

“Hyundai’s philosophy for developing autonomous driving technology is to provide the highest level of safety combined with a high standard of convenience that our customers expect,” said Jinwoo Lee, head of the Intelligent Safety Technology Centre at Hyundai Motor Group.

Autonomous driving processes a high volume of data, which requires a lot of power. The fuel cell electric model is able to produce electricity through a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen in the fuel cell stack, making it the optimal vehicle model choice for this test.

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Tesla’s new competition

The Nexo – Hyundai’s newest practical hydrogen fuel cell car – made its debut on Monday during the Hyundai’s press conference at CES 2018. 

“Hydrogen energy is the key to building a more sustainable society. Hyundai Motor Company has already taken a lead in hydrogen technology with introduction of Tucson fuel cell,” said Dr. Woong-chul Yang, Vice Chairman, Hyundai Motor Company.

“Yet as another result of this earth-saving effort, today, I am so proud to introduce to you our second-generation Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle which is a culmination of our cutting-edge technologies.”

The Nexo picks up from where the Tucson FCEV left of. The Tuscon was Hyundai’s first attempt at a mass-produced hydrogen-powered vehicle that was available for customers to lease. The Nexo has similar proportions to the current Tucson compact SUV, but it has been built with a fuel cell in mind, meaning the structure is lighter and accommodates the hydrogen fuel tanks in a more strategic layout.

The result is a SUV that is 20 per cent quicker than the Tucson and can reach 100km/h in 9.6 seconds.

The Hyundai NEXO has a claimed range of around 600km — 30 per cent more than the Tucson FCEV (425km) and also more than the Tesla Model S’s circa-500km range. However, Hyundai sources insist 800km has been achieved in regular testing.

Unlike battery electric cars, which can take hours to charge, refuelling the hydrogen fuel-cell car’s pressurised tank takes only slightly longer than it does to fill a petrol or diesel vehicle – Hyundai says it’s around five minutes.

The biggest hurdle facing hydrogen cars like the NEXO remains a lack of refuelling infrastructure. Refuelling stations are few and far between. Japan for example has 28,000 EV charging stations but only 92 hydrogen fuelling stations.
Prices for the car are yet to be revealed but will likely be revealed shortly before the car goes on sale later this year. 


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Hyundai reveals next-gen fuel-cell SUV

Hyundai Motor has offered an early glimpse of its next-generation fuel-cell vehicle, well ahead of the hydrogen-powered SUV’s official launch early next year. At a special preview event held in Seoul, the yet-to-be-named SUV previews Hyundai’s second commercially produced hydrogen model and uses the company’s fourth generation of hydrogen fuel cell technology developed on four key pillars that focus on fuel cell system efficiency, performance, durability, and tank storage density.
“With exceptional efficiency, serene styling, and uncompromised performance, our next generation fuel cell SUV is the true epitome of an eco-friendly vehicle of the future,” Lee Ki-sang, Senior Vice President of Hyundai Motor Group’s Eco Technology Centre, says. “Hyundai Motor will take lead in developing and producing green energy vehicles that would ultimately complement a near-zero emission society.”
By enhancing fuel cell performance, reducing hydrogen consumption, and optimizing key components, the vehicle’s efficiency is greatly improved compared to the its predecessor, the ix35 Fuel Cell. The new SUV boasts an efficiency level of 60 per cent, or a 9 per cent increase from the ix35’s 55.3 per cent. With enhanced system efficiency, the new model targets a driving range of more than 580km on a single charge. 
The new model’s maximum output is enhanced by 20 per cent compared to its predecessor, boasting an impressive 163PS (119kW) of power. The fuel cell SUV also improves the car’s cold start capability, overcoming the challenges of starting fuel cell vehicles in temperatures below freezing point. 
By employing highly durable catalyst technology, the new hydrogen-powered SUV ensures even greater longevity than its predecessor.
The next generation hydrogen vehicle makes significant improvements in tank storage density. The tank package now features three equally-sized tanks, as opposed to two of different sizes. World-class tank gravimetric capacity (hydrogen storage mass per tank weight) was achieved through innovations to the plastic liner configuration and efficient layering pattern, which resulted in a reduction of thickness.
The mass-produced new vehicle will also feature advanced driver assistance technologies.
Hyundai says it will take a multi-pronged approach to its eco-vehicle program. The company is committed to a future vehicle line-up comprising a variety of powertrain options – electric, hybrid and fuel cell – to suit customers’ varied lifestyles.
Spurred on by greater global demand for fuel-efficient, eco-friendly vehicles, the brand’s goal is to lead the global popularisation of hybrid vehicles, expanding its lineup to SUVs and large vehicles. Another part of the plan is the development of 4WD and FR (Front Engine Rear Wheel Drive) variants, building on its proprietary Transmission-Mounted Electrical Device (TMED) system, which was developed in 2011.
While Hyundai continues to develop its leadership of the electric vehicle market with its current IONIQ model, the company also aims to establish a lineup ranging from small EVs to large Genesis-brand models. Hyundai’s electric vehicle development will take place in multiple phases: 
• Launch of EV version of the Kona compact SUV, with range of 390km in first half of 2018
• Launch of Genesis EV model in 2021
• Launch of long-range EV, with 500km range after 2021
Hyundai will reveal the SUV early next year in Korea, followed by the North American and European markets. 
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Daimler to wind down fuel-cell research

The head of Daimler AG, Dieter Zetsche, said at an automotive conference in Stuttgart, Germany that hydrogen fuel cells are no longer a major part of future research and development plans for the company.

According to engineering news site Smart2Zero, Zetsche told the summit that declining battery costs have made fuel cells uncompetitive in the growing EV market.

“Battery costs are declining rapidly, whereas hydrogen production remains very costly,” Zetsche said.

Last week, Zetsche announced at the annual shareholder’s meeting a $15 billion cash injection into its EV development fund and detailed plans to roll out 10 new EV models by 2022, including a Mercedes-Benz S-Class plug-in hybrid.

Zetche’s twin announcements suggest the 2013 agreement between Ford, Daimler and Renault-Nissan to jointly develop fuel-cell technology could be winding down. The process of manufacturing liquid hydrogen to power fuel-cell vehicles is extremely energy-intensive, and the recent development of long-range electric batteries have rendered the chief advantage of hydrogen fuel-cells over other alternative energy sources moot.

Fuel-cell vehicle sales lag far behind EVs. The most popular fuel-cell vehicle, the Toyota Mirai, has sold just 2,840 units as of February 2017, with sales projected to top 30,000 by 2020. Conversely, the Nissan Leaf, the highest-selling EV worldwide, sold 250,000 units by the end of 2016.

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Honda preview Geneva Show exhibit

Honda has previewed a range of new releases ahead of the Geneva Auto Show next month, including a new Civic model, a concept EV, and developments to their fuel-cell technology.

The Honda Civic Type R, a ‘hot hatch’ developed in parallel with the standard Civic hatchback, is the centrepiece of Honda’s display. The Type R will contain the 2.0-litre VTEC TURBO petrol engine, with production to begin at Honda’s UK plant in winter 2017.

The Clarity fuel cell will also be on show, and the first cars are scheduled to arrive in Europe at the end of the year. Honda claims the Clarity is the most advanced fuel-cell vehicle on the planet, with a maximum range of 620km.

Retail sales of the 100kW sedan began in California last December, where the range was rated 589km by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Honda will also show the Honda NeuV for the first time in Europe, a fully-electric concept car with a “unique ownership proposition and a state-of-the-art emotion engine,” that can learn about its driver.

The “emotion engine”, Honda claims, detects the driver’s emotions behind their judgements on the road, and can then apply what it has learned from past decisions to make new recommendations.

The NeuV would also function has an automated ride-sharing vehicle when not in use, picking up and dropping off customers at local destinations, and could sell energy back to the electric grid during times of high demand when it‘s sitting idle.

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