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The Hyundai Nexo is a smart fuel-cell vehicle

With advanced systems that bring the car closer to autonomous driving

Goodbye, Tucson FCV; hello, Nexo. PHOTO FROM HYUNDAI

Cars are rapidly evolving into super-efficient, super-smart vehicles that our children would be fortunate to own and ride. At the moment, three main attributes usually define a technologically advanced automobile: It has electric propulsion, it is connected to a digital communications network, and it has some form of artificial intelligence that makes it semi-autonomous.

Korean automaker Hyundai is deviating just a little bit with the new Nexo crossover SUV unveiled at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Nexo is a fuel cell vehicle that replaces the current FCV model in Hyundai’s product line, the Tucson FCV. The bigger Nexo—4,671mm long compared to the 4,409mm Tucson—is more special in that it is the first Hyundai fuel-cell model to own a dedicated vehicle architecture (as opposed to being merely based on an existing production model).

That's a trippy grille the Nexo has. Perfectly suits the fuel cell that powers this thing. PHOTOS FROM HYUNDAI

The Nexo’s 95kW fuel-cell stack and 40kW electric battery give it a combined power of 135kW, which is the equivalent of 181hp. Maximum torque, meanwhile, is said to be 395Nm. Not bad for a vehicle that boasts a lighter structure than the Tucson FCV (which, by the way, only had 166hp and 300Nm).

And it’s not just in power and torque that the Nexo trumps the Tucson FCV. More crucially, it has a much-improved driving range of almost 600km, easily better than the latter’s 424km reserve.

Measuring 4,671mm from bumper to bumper, the Nexo is longer than the Tucson FCV. PHOTO FROM HYUNDAI

The Nexo also has advanced driver assistance systems like the blind-spot view monitor, the lane-keeping assist, the highway driving assist, and the remote smart parking assist, which bring this vehicle a step closer to autonomous driving. The last feature is particularly interesting because it purportedly allows the Nexo to “autonomously park or retrieve itself from a parking space with or without a driver in the car.”

A clean rear doesn't betray the fuel-cell propulsion. Not even a badge indicates it's an FCV. PHOTOS FROM HYUNDAI

Only exterior photographs have been released so far by Hyundai. But we won’t have to wait too long to lay our eyes on the Nexo’s cabin, as the vehicle is all set to be available “in select markets” from “early 2018.” Fat chance we’ll get this model here. This will be too expensive for our market, especially since it isn’t clear if FCVs are also covered by the tax exemptions granted to hybrid and electric vehicles.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.