With all the talk lately surrounding battery-powered EVs (Electric Vehicles) and their impending rise to the fore of the automotive market (it’s never that far away, but it’s always further than people are saying), it’s easy to forget that there are other combustion technologies primed to give them a run for their money.
Hyundai’s NEXO, which you might have heard a little about over the last few years since its unveiling in 2018, is one such vehicle waiting in the wings. The whisper-quiet hydrogen FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle) is currently being employed by the ACT Government, with 20 of the vehicles being given the chance to prove their capacity after having beaten out the similarly-powered Toyota Mirai for the opportunity.
The NEXO comes with a bunch of the things that drivers are starting to become familiar with in advanced passenger cars like semi-autonomous driving aids and a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, but with one significant upgrade: the vehicle emits nothing but water vapour.
The trial starts in the wake of full certification and ADR approval for the NEXO, and Canberra’s not the only place getting involved. The QLD Government will be jumping on board the green initiative, with 5 vehicles on their way to the Sunshine State to be pressed into the service of their public servants once their own refuelling station has been finished.
For all their benefits, as we see it, there are still two major downsides to battery-powered EVs like the Tesla Model 3 that citygoers have been seeing more and more of: the long charge times, and the short range made available. There is, after all, a reason you don’t see them out on the open road, crossing the vast distances between Australian cities all that often.
That’s where the NEXO and other hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric vehicles are poised to make a real difference. The NEXO has a range of above 650km and can be refuelled in 3 to 5 minutes (barely longer than the amount of time you’d spend at the pump with a conventional petrol or diesel-powered vehicle).
Before you go getting your hopes up that you’ll finally be able to be a friend to the environment without having to sacrifice too much in the way of vehicular inconvenience, the NEXO isn’t going to be available to the public for a while. The first publicly-accessible refuelling station is yet to open up in Canberra, and there’ll need to be a network of such locations available before the vehicles are viable for everyday use.
What are your thoughts? Do you think FCEVs will become a serious part of Australia’s driving future? How long do you think it’ll be until we start seeing vehicles like the NEXO on the roads?