Hyundai’s Nexo hydrogen crossover can power appliances, give plants a drink

Hyundai Nexo

The big news from Hyundai at CES 2018 is the Nexo, a hydrogen-powered crossover that boasts brand-new technology and an eye-catching design of its own. The South Korean carmaker is also showcasing unexpected ways its fuel cell-based drivetrain can help out around the house and in the yard while reducing its owners’ electricity bill.

It’s a simple idea: Nexo owners can let their car idle to generate electricity, which is something you often see workers doing at construction sites. The difference here is that the Nexo runs silently, so you don’t have a diesel engine permanently purring in the background, and its drivetrain emits nothing but water vapor. No one is going to choke on the fumes — not even the Earth. You could, with a big enough opening, drive it into your house and let it idle in your living room.

This all sounds very pie in the sky. but it has several real-world implications. “Many household items found in the kitchen, the garden, and the living room can be powered by a fuel cell electric vehicle,” Hyundai notes in a statement. The Nexo can provide assistance during peak hours and take over entirely in the event of a power outage. It likely won’t generate enough electricity to keep an entire house juiced up but it can make the difference between living in relative comfort and getting out an armada of flashlights and candles.

The ability to dispense the electricity generated by its fuel cell makes the Nexo a useful off-the-grid vehicle, whether you’re a rescue worker who needs access to power tools or out camping with your family.

Hyundai points out another, more unexpected aspect of its hydrogen technology. The Nexo could keep your garden green, no green thumb required. Its tailpipe produces pure water vapor that can be collected and used in a variety of ways. Nexo owners can water their plants with it, for example. Most hydrogen car manufacturers warn against drinking the water; Hyundai hasn’t commented but we expect it will issue similar guidelines before the Nexo reaches customers. That hasn’t stopped at least one journalist from trying when Toyota released the Mirai, however.