• Follow us


New Hydrogen-Powered Hyundai: a Gas to Drive, a Pain to Fuel

Watching the Hyundai pull into the parking spot, I cringe a bit with the stress that strikes when I feel like I’m holding other people up. The car is wiggling backward and forward, backward and forward, trying to fit into the dead center of the spot, and another driver is stuck, waiting to get by in the tight garage. Once the Hyundai is finally parked, the waiting driver pulls up and stops, window down and eyes wide open. And she’s not annoyed.

“Did that thing just park itself?” she asks. I tell her it did, though I have to stand nearby, holding down a button on the key. “What in the world?” she says. “Now I’ve seen everything.”

The car in question is the Nexo, Hyundai’s newest midsize SUV, with room for five and a week’s worth of groceries. And while the self-parking capability is its most noticeable, maybe marquee, feature, that’s not what makes the Nexo interesting, nor does it explain the blood-draining $58,300 base price. Nor do the heated and cooled seats, the vegan-friendly faux leather materials, or the 12.3-inch, high-res touchscreen. To find the answer, you’ve got to pop open the hood.

The Nexo is all-electric, but it’s no Tesla look-alike, pulling power from a hulking battery built into the floor. This SUV makes its own juice with the hydrogen fuel cell sitting where you usually find a gas-exploding internal combustion engine. Like the few other hydrogen-powered, zero-emission cars on the market today, the Nexo is a joy to drive. As long as you can live with the fact that what makes it special also happens to make it a pain.

The promise of hydrogen power has tempted the auto industry for more than half a century. The idea is simple. Instead of storing electricity in a battery, you make it as you go. In a fuel cell, hydrogen (stored as compressed gas) is stripped of its electrons, then combined with oxygen. The resulting electricity powers a motor (and in turn the wheels), and water, the only byproduct, drips out a tail pipe. When you run low on hydrogen, just swing by a pump. After five minutes or so, you’re back on the road with a full tank that should be good for more than 300 miles. It’s a terrifically clean process that offers the benefits of EVs—a clean conscience and zippy acceleration—without the need to plug in for hours to recharge a drained battery. The tech has been hyped since General Motors showed off a fuel-cell-powered prototype van in 1966.

The Nexo's 12.3-inch touchscreen works nicely and makes it easy to look up the nearest hydrogen fueling station.


Today, though, the Nexo is one of just three fuel-cell cars you can take home in the US, along with the Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity. GM and the German automakers who poured R&D money into the technology have stopped bringing it up, instead pushing their battery-based electric offerings. That’s because this scheme has plenty of downsides. There’s hardly any infrastructure to move the fuel around the country. Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe, but the process of making it useable as fuel often involves natural gas, so it’s not a guaranteed clean.

No surprise, then, there aren’t many places to fill up. The Department of Energy lists fewer than 40 public hydrogen fueling stations in the whole country. Every one is in California, mostly around Los Angeles, with a few in the San Francisco Bay Area. For reference, the Golden State has more than 15,000 EV charging spots and 10,000 gas stations.

The good thing, I discovered during the 10 days I spent with the Nexo, is that when a full tank takes you about 325 miles, you don’t need to refuel too often. But after a week of shuttling between home in Berkeley, work in San Francisco, and meetings in Silicon Valley, I found myself in Mountain View with 40 miles left in the tank. Not quite enough to get home. Happily, Hyundai anticipated newbies like me and programmed the Nexo’s inbuilt navigation system to pull up to the nearest hydrogen oasis. And lo, there was one in Palo Alto, just a few miles away. A few miles out of my way—a strange feeling to pass up so many gas stations—but acceptable.

That’s when things got tricky. The hydrogen fueler at the Barron Park Shell station on El Camino Real looks like a regular gas setup, down to the credit card reader and pump handle attached to a long black hose. I popped open the Nexo’s fuel door and followed the posted instructions: insert credit card, pick up pump, select pressure rate, begin fueling. Simple enough, except that it didn’t work—no hydrogen. I tried again, and a third time, only to get more error messages. Then the station attendant came over and explained the actual process: insert credit card, pick up pump, lock the nozzle onto the receptacle, pull the handle to lock it on, then select pressure rate. Getting it off again took a fair bit of jimmying. The attendant at one point borrowed my keys to knock away some of the ice that formed on the nozzle. (To ease fueling, the hydrogen in the pump is kept at –40 degrees Fahrenheit.) The delay gave us a chance to chat, though: He loves having the pump at the station and says it has several visitors a day.

Hyundai filled the Nexo with all sorts of neat features, including a camera view of the car's blind spots that pops up in the dashboard when the turn signal is on.


I understand his happiness when I realize that a not-quite-full tank cost me $85. Let’s compare that to the similarly sized Lexus RX, which gets 27 mpg. For 350 miles of range, you’ll need 12.96 gallons of gas. Premium gas in California right now averages $3.544 a gallon, so you’re paying $45.94, barely half what I paid for my high-pressure gas. But worry not, Hyundai’s so eager to get you into this car, your lease comes with three years of free fuel (up to $13,000). And on that note, the government will ease the $58,300 price tag with a $7,500 tax credit from the feds and an additional $5,000 from California. Add those up (assuming you drive enough to hit the fuel max), and you can knock the car’s price down to $33,300. That’s quite good for a car stuffed with luxury options.

With a full tank, the Nexo gets back to doing what it does really well: driving. It accelerates sharply (thanks, instant torque). The adaptive cruise control works nicely. That big center screen supports Apple CarPlay, which I prefer to any single manufacturer’s inbuilt system. For long, traffic-riddled schleps around the Bay Area, it’s a quiet, comfy ride. One casual carpooler I picked up was stunned to realize she was sitting in a Hyundai: “It’s nice!”

A couple of minor gripes: The whole center console is covered in buttons, more than 30 of the things. Buttons trump touchscreens because you can hit them without looking away from the road, but when the cockpit feels like a B-52 bomber, they lose that advantage. Better design can shrink that number by combining functions in logical ways. And driving-wise, I’d have liked the option of dialing up the regenerative braking further, so the car recaptures more energy from the wheels as it slows car down. Crank that high enough, and you can stop the car just by getting off the accelerator.

My bigger concerns are for the bigger idea of selling hydrogen-powered cars. I wonder whether Hyundai will sell enough to make back even some of the R&D it put in here—or if the execs will settle for meeting California’s requirement that they sell at least some zero emission cars in the state (the automaker also offers a few battery-electric models). And even if the network of fueling stations is growing, it will be a good while before it can match the reach of what’s likely its real competitor—the conventional electric car. Charging a Tesla or similar may take a bit (30 minutes for a nearly full battery is increasingly common), but the grid is ubiquitous, and installing a charging station anywhere you like is far easier than setting up a hydrogen pump and keeping it full of fuel.

There’s an old joke about hydrogen: It’s the fuel of the future, and it always will be. But at the end of my test drive, I’m sorry to give up the Nexo. I’d just filled it, after all, and I was ready to get back on the road.

More Great WIRED StoriesYour boring, everyday life belongs on social mediaChina might corner the 5G market. The US needs a planHow a DIY Tesla mechanic resurrects flooded electric carsIs that Dagobah? No, just a real-life magical forestMonkeys with super-eyes could help cure color blindness👀 Looking for the latest gadgets? Check out our latest buying guides and best deals all year round📩 Want more? Sign up for our daily newsletter and never miss our latest and greatest storiesRead More

Leave A Comment

More News


Waymo’s Move to Sell Lidar Units Is a 2019-03-06 14:47:20The shift to sell its technology to robotics and security companies is an indication that Waymo isn’t placing all its bets on self-driving cars.

Mercedes Remakes the Minivan as an All-Electric Luxury 2019-03-05 03:30:00The German automaker’s MPV has room for eight, 249 miles of range, and makes the kiddie karter look good.

How Amazon Taught the Echo Auto to Hear 2019-03-04 07:00:00Start with a sort of crash test dummy that has creepily realistic human ears, then add a bunch of road noise. Repeat.

Tesla’s $35,000 Model 3 Arrives and More Cars 2019-03-03 09:00:00Elon Musk hits a milestone and gets in trouble with the SEC, Lyft files for its IPO, cities investigate congestion pricing, and more.

How Arrivo Got Colorado to Back a Wild-Eyed 2019-03-02 07:00:00Brogan BamBrogan's company promised Colorado a hyperloop-inspired transportation, then shut down.

Lyft’s IPO Filing Shows Ridership Is Surging—So Are 2019-03-01 17:50:36Uber's recent stumbles have helped Lyft surge ahead in terms of revenue, but its costs are growing, too.

The Age of Congestion Pricing May Finally Be 2019-02-28 19:19:06Some US cities might start charging extra to drive on crowded, busy roads.

Tesla’s Model 3 Is Now Selling for $35,000 2019-02-28 18:58:10Elon Musk’s automaker is also introducing a slightly more capable version of the car, moving its sales process online, and shuttering many of it

Electric Polestar 2 Is a Mass-Market Tesla Model 2019-02-27 19:01:29Volvo's electric- and performance-focused brand eschews the SUV trend with the fastback Polestar 2.

Elon Musk’s Latest Tweets Could Land Him in 2019-02-25 22:46:06The SEC has asked a judge to hold the Tesla CEO in contempt of court, but even that didn't stop Musk's tweeting.

Trouble Brews Anew at Tesla, Plus More Car 2019-02-24 09:00:00The Tesla Model 3 loses its *Consumer Reports* recommended status, we drive Hyundai’s hydrogen-powered SUV, and more.

Hyundai Nexo Review: The Hydrogen Fuel Cell-Powered Electric 2019-02-22 09:00:00Hyundai has made an excellent car, but that may not be enough to overcome the difficulties of driving on hydrogen.

Automotive News Breaking

Tesla will drop 'misleading' marketing in Germany touting 2019-03-07 08:05:51Tesla agreed to get rid of fuel-savings claims for its Model 3 sedan in Germany that a fair-competition watchdog said are misleading.  

Ghosn-led companies donated to exec's children's school 2019-03-07 08:01:53The Renault-Nissan alliance and Ghosn's family are listed as donors by the American School in Paris, which has a "Ghosn room."

The mastermind behind Ghosn's dramatic bail release and 2019-03-07 07:50:53Carlos Ghosn’s bet on a new team of lawyers paid off this week, thanks to a legal ace who orchestrated his release on bail from a Tokyo jail aft

Continental says AV revenues won't be significant until 2019-03-07 07:24:51Continental CEO Elmar Degenhart said that the autonomous vehicle market "will be driven mainly by assistance systems. Significant revenues will

Tesla says it plans to boost charger network 2019-03-07 06:52:08Charging times for Tesla vehicles will drop to around 15 minutes, the company said on its blog. After rolling out in North America, the technolog

A chaotic market for one sensor stalls self-driving 2019-03-06 16:17:46Automakers and technology companies racing to develop self-driving vehicles are running into a problem: cars that can think are no good without afford

U.S. extends time for divestment from sanctioned Russian 2019-03-06 16:03:43The U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control said in a statement that it would allow investors and businesses until July 6 to cut ties with G

New Chrysler Pacifica ad: Perception of minivan ownership 2019-03-06 15:22:09The new ad campaign, featuring actor Jamie Foxx, launched this week as sales of the minivan got off to a slow start this year.

Last Chevrolet Cruze in Ohio built amid GM 2019-03-06 15:19:57Workers posted photos of the final Cruze making its way down the assembly line on social media. It came off the line around 3 p.m., a GM spokesman sai

Ghosn girds for the legal fight of his 2019-03-06 14:23:14Free after 108 days of spartan prison conditions, Ghosn’s first stop was to his lawyer’s office. He changed into a suit, the uniform of th

Ford investigating possible problems with fuel economy, emissions 2019-02-21 17:04:03Ford has been investigating concerns raised by employees that incorrect calculations were used to translate test results into the mileage and emission

Visteon Q4 net income rose 72%, shares climb 2019-02-21 15:54:41Despite industry headwinds, Visteon posted $43 million in fourth-quarter net income and forecast continued strong results for 2019.

All Motor Trend Stories RSS

Production Maserati Alfieri Will Debut in Geneva Next 2019-03-07 08:00:56Back in July, Maserati and Alfa Romeo boss Tim Kuniskis told us the Alfieri concept would be put into production as part of a plan to overha

2019 Chevrolet Blazer RS First Test: The Camaro 2019-03-07 04:00:37I have to imagine it wasn’t supposed to be this way. There have been rumblings from inside Chevrolet for years that the automaker was planning a

Next-Gen Honda Civic Type R Will Most Likely 2019-03-06 18:45:03Earlier this week, Honda announced an accelerated electrification strategy in Europe. Instead of electrified vehicles making up two-thirds of sales&nb

Best Cars of the 2019 Geneva Motor Show: 2019-03-06 18:30:45Every year, you can count on the Geneva International Motor Show to deliver the latest and greatest supercars and hypercars, along with a mix of exclu

Ford Adds 2020 F-600 Super Duty to its 2019-03-06 16:45:08After redesigning the F-150 for 2015 and the Super Duty for 2017, Ford gave its best-seller a mid-cycle refresh for 2018. Then, early l

Forbidden Fruit Cars of the 2019 Geneva Motor 2019-03-06 16:26:45The Geneva Motor Show is a feast for the eyes, not only in terms of the improbably expensive hypercars from brands you’ve never heard of, but al

McLaren Adding a Grand Tourer to the Lineup 2019-03-06 16:00:40McLaren is entering new territory with a $200,000 grand tourer planned for those who want a performance luxury car that is comfortable for a weekend g

SsangYong Delaying U.S. Launch 2019-03-06 15:15:41South Korean automaker SsangYong Motor has paused plans to launch its crossover-laden lineup in the U.S. market—which had been forecast for 2020

Here’s What It’s Like to Sit Inside the 2019-03-06 14:15:31There I was, halfway through an interview with the CEO of Aston Martin, Andy Palmer, and it’s late in the day on the second day of the Geneva mo

Ousted Nissan Boss Ghosn Leaves Japan Jail After 2019-03-06 13:30:04Ousted Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn walked out of a Tokyo prison on a $9 million bail on Wednesday, slipping past reporters in a face mask and m

2020 Porsche 911 Turbo 992 Leaks on Instagram 2019-02-21 17:53:32Porsche owner and enthusiast Todd Schleicher has posted what could be the first public images of the 992-generation 2020 Porsche 911 Turbo on his Inst

Spied! Chevrolet Caught Testing a Small Fleet of 2019-02-21 16:26:32Earlier this month, we caught yet another mid-engine Corvette prototype out testing on public roads. Interestingly, it wasn’t running around in

Automotive news - from

UK govt has "lost its way" as Brexit 2019-03-07 07:54:00Britain's Road Haulage Association (RHA) says it is "deeply concerned at the complete and utter lack of clarity," which remains with regards to bor

West European car market down 1.6% in February 2019-03-07 07:24:00West European car registrations fell 1.6% year-on-year in February, according to data released by LMC Automotive. However, it also said the annualised

Now Toyota threatens to leave UK if Brexit 2019-03-07 07:07:00Toyota Motor has suggested it could end UK production as early as 2023 if the country leaves the European Union without a deal on the terms of it

Mitsubishi Electric starts Czech Republic plant build 2019-03-07 06:59:00Mitsubishi Electric Corporation says it will start construction of a new plant on the premises of its subsidiary, Mitsubishi Electric Automotive

US sales for Polestar 2 threatened by trade 2019-03-07 06:58:00The Geely/Volvo Cars owned Polestar brand has warned that the launch of its new fully electric model in the US could be jeopardised by trade tari

Hyundai axes oldest Chinese assembly plant 2019-03-07 06:40:00Hyundai will close its oldest plant in China as early as next month due to plummeting sales in the world's biggest market, South Korean media reporte

Japan sales rise in February 2019-03-07 04:17:00Japan's new vehicle market edged up by 1.2% to 479,428 units in February from weak year-earlier sales of 473,876 units, according to registration dat

OECD report sees global economic growth slowing 2019-03-07 04:13:00The global economy is slowing and major risks persist, with growth weakening much more than expected in Europe, according to the OECD's latest econom

UK light commercials sales up so far in 2019-03-06 09:11:00The UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market remained "stable" in February, with year-on-year demand growing by 1.8%, according to the latest da

Schaeffler cuts 900 jobs as EV shift gathers 2019-03-06 08:51:00Schaeffler's Automotive OEM division is to axe 900 jobs and "consolidate" five European plants as it reacts to the shift from internal combustion e

Australian sales dip in February 2019-03-06 07:54:00Australia's Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) reported sales of 87,102 new vehicles during February 2019 down 9.3% year-on-year.

Thailand to cut excise taxes on local EVs, 2019-03-06 06:32:00The Thai government this week agreed to suspend the local excise tax on battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) for a period of three years to help e

High Gear Media Network Feed

Maserati Alfieri locked in for 2020 Geneva auto 2019-03-07 07:00:00Maserati's Alfieri sports car will be shown at the 2020 Geneva International Motor Show but won't reach showrooms until 2021 or 2022. The informatio

McLaren 720S Spider by MSO accentuates its aero 2019-03-07 06:00:00It's pretty much common practice these days to see McLaren Special Operations flex its creativity to show off the possibilities within the department

2022 BMW iNext spy shots 2019-03-07 02:00:00BMW is working on a technological flagship code-named the iNext, which the automaker previewed last September with the Vision iNext concept and has si

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake is forbidden fruit 2019-03-06 17:00:00Americans still aren't too keen on wagon body styles, and that likely makes the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake off limits stateside. However,

Updated Land Rover Range Rover Sentinel adds power 2019-03-06 16:00:00Flashback to 2015 and recall Jaguar-Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations revealed an armored version of the swanky Range Rover with the Sentinel b

Fiat Concept Centoventi imagines snap-together customization 2019-03-06 15:00:00Fiat turns 120 years old this year, and to celebrate, the brand introduced the Concept Centoventi at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show. The con

Goodyear creates concept tires that can act as 2019-03-06 14:00:00If the future does, in fact, include flying cars as a new sort of transportation method, it's best to have equipment that can handle both roads and f

2020 Hyundai Sonata ready to shine brightly 2019-03-06 13:00:00The Hyundai Sonata received wide praise for its bold styling when it was redesigned for 2010. In 2016, that fanfare retreated when it received a rathe

Koenigsegg Jesko deep dive: 7 clutches, 1,600 hp, 2019-03-06 11:45:00When you're developing a replacement for the fastest car on the planet, a typical update isn't going to cut the mustard. Fortunately, that wasn't a

Gordon Murray's McLaren F1 successor to boast V-12 2019-03-06 11:32:00Gordon Murray gave the world the McLaren F1 in the 1990s as its designer. After operating his design business for years, Murray formed his own car com

Aston Martin Vanquish, Alfa Romeo Tonale, Ruf GT: 2019-03-06 11:00:00Aston Martin surprised audiences at this week's 2019 Geneva International Motor Show with the reveal of not one but two mid-engine cars. One of them

Hyundai's latest app turns a smartphone into your 2019-03-06 10:00:00Future Hyundai cars won't require a key at all. The automaker has announced a new digital key that turns an owner's smartphone into a key to lock/un

Featured Articles

Subaru Impreza review 2019-03-07 07:54:23 For  Strong safety credentials Four-wheel-drive grip Long list of equipment Our Rating  3

Tesla unveils its 250kW V3 Supercharging system 2019-03-07 06:17:06 Luke Wilkinson 2019-03-07 11:19 Tesla has released its latest charging system, capable of delivering 75 miles of range in 5 minut

SEAT Tarraco review 2019-03-07 04:55:20 For  Good to drive Stylish looks Smart interior Our Rating  4 Against 

Gumpert Nathalie debuts at Geneva 2019-03-06 11:53:57 Luke Wilkinson 2019-03-06 16:50 Gumpert unwrapped the world’s first methanol-electric supercar at Geneva this year, with a

Current BMW i3 to get revamp rather than 2019-03-06 11:38:08 John McIlroy 2019-03-06 16:40 The BMW i3 is entering its seventh year of production, but the electric car will continue to be pro

BMW M division to use i electric car 2019-03-06 11:25:33 John McIlroy 2019-03-06 16:25 Future BMW M cars could use tech developed by the firm's i electrification team to boost performan

Audi set to cut its model range 2019-03-06 10:57:22 Jonathan Burn 2019-03-06 16:00 The cost of investing in electric vehicles and autonomous tech means Audi is set to reduce its mod

Special edition Cupra Ateca unveiled at Geneva 2019-03-06 09:50:21 Luke Wilkinson 2019-03-06 14:55 Available in limited numbers later this year, the special edition Cupra Ateca features a handful

De Tomaso and Apollo make unconventional Geneva appearances 2019-03-06 09:49:08 Luke Wilkinson 2019-03-06 14:55 Italian supercar brand De Tomaso attempted to upstage the Geneva show by driving around in a camo

Peugeot says level 4 autonomous cars would mean 2019-03-06 09:35:02 Alex Ingram 2019-03-06 14:40 Level 3 autonomy is the limit for Peugeot as its CEO reveals a £13,000 price premium would be

“The new VW Group is letting its other 2019-03-06 08:20:32 Steve Fowler 2019-03-06 13:20 SEAT’s position as a technology leader wouldn’t have happened under previous VW managem

New McLaren 720S Spider by MSO debuts tri-tone 2019-03-06 07:15:17 Luke Wilkinson 2019-03-06 13:00 McLaren Special Operations showcases customised 720S Spider at Geneva, featuring a tri-tone paint

Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.