Hydrogen fuel cell power has yet to achieve a solid breakthrough on the automotive scene, due in large part to the lack of infrastructure. California has taken steps to scatter fueling stations across the state, but with only 13 of them established across 800 miles, there isn’t much incentive for the general consumer to turn from the thousands of regular gas stations or the less-prolific but still numerous electric charging ports in favor of hydrogen power.
Still, Toyota and Hyundai have led the charge to bring the alternative energy powertrain to the mass market, with both introducing consumer vehicles recently. Toyota’s Mirai is off to a strong sales start (first in California, then abroad) while Hyundai’s Tucson/ix35 hydrogen fuel cell model has turned out to be more of an experiment than a sales king. Hyundai reckons that because its fuel cell vehicle isn’t a unique design (like the Mirai), consumers haven’t been drawn to it as much.
To rectify this issue, Autocar reports that the Korean automaker is working on an all-new model with a bespoke design. This will apparently be a different model than the planned Kia hydrogen fuel cell car coming in 2020.
“We will launch a dedicated vehicle, although it is not clear what vehicle type it will be based around,” said Sae-Hoon Kim, Hyundai-Kia’s head of hydrogen fuel cell research.
Unlike the Mirai, Hyundai will retain the crossover body style for its new model, which makes sense considering how crossovers and SUVs continue to outperform other market segments. As for its specs, Kim hinted that the model would achieve a 500-mile range and a top speed of 110 mph. By comparison, the Hyundai Tucson/ix35 offers a 375-mile range and tops out at 100 mph.
“Our issue is that all customer feedback says range and boot space are the priorities, but of course a larger fuel tank impinges on boot space,” Kim said.
There’s no word on price, but expect the new model to cost about the same as Toyota’s Mirai, which retails for $57,500.