Hyundai Motor Group has just showcased their next gen fuel-cell powered vehicle at a special preview event in Seoul. To nobody’s surprise, the “near-production-ready” model is an SUV. Hyundai has yet to give the hydrogen-powered SUV a name but it is expected to hit the market in early 2018.

With the new model, Hyundai has greatly improved the hydrogen-electric powertrain found on the ix35 Fuel Cell (Tucson Fuel Cell in some markets) giving better hydrogen (fuel) consumption, greater performance and overall efficiency. The new enhanced powertrain is good for 161 hp and can cover 800 km on a single tank of hydrogen.

Also contributing to the extended driving range is the new hydrogen tank that is larger but lighter than its predecessor thanks to innovations on plastic liner and efficient layering pattern.

The new powertrain has also addressed the biggest issue with fuel-cell vehicles – cold start capability. To ensure that the hydrogen-powered powertrain starts up in temperatures below freezing, Hyundai have reworked the vehicles architecture as well as incorporating enhanced components such as MEA (membrane electrode assembly) and bipolar plates to allow it to start smoothly at -30 degrees Celsius. Rest assured that we won’t be having this problem here in Malaysia.

No point having a highly advanced powertrain if no one wants to drive one eh? Hyundai has also paid great attention to the SUVs design, drawing inspirations from mother nature – namely water, the car’s only emission. Emphasizing its non-polluting nature, the new vehicle takes on flowing and smooth lines, giving a claiming presence on the road. Its SUV characteristics are not lost too, with high ground clearance for off-road expeditions incorporated to its design.

Its curvaceous shape is not just for the Grammy Award’s Night; Hyundai has incorporated low-drag and aerodynamic elements to complement not only the vehicles overall efficiency but also its soothing design.

The calm design theme is also reflected inside the cabin where the designers have adopted a minimalistic approach to emphasise a welcoming and uncluttered interior. Hyundai will also be using eco-friendly certified bio-materials on the interior, giving the new SUV a complete eco-friendly profile.

The new hydrogen powered SUV will be officially launched in Korea early next year followed by North American and European markets. Hyundai is also looking into expanding its new fuel cell model to markets with high growth potential for eco-friendly vehicles such as China.