Next Hyundai fuel-cell vehicle will be another SUV

Plans are already in place for Hyundai's next fuel-cell vehicle to sport a crossover utility vehicle body.

Gene J. Puskar/AP/File
The Hyundai logo on the rear of a Hyundai automobile on display at the Pittsburgh International Auto Show in Pittsburgh (Feb. 11, 2016). Plans are already in place for Hyundai's next fuel-cell vehicle to sport a crossover utility vehicle body.

The current Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell was the first of the modern crop of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to go on sale, and it's also the only one with a crossover utility vehicle body.

As the name suggests, it's a (previous-generation) Tucson fitted with a fuel-cell powertrain.

Now it seems that Hyundai may make its next fuel-cell vehicle a crossover as well, although perhaps on a dedicated platform this time.

Plans for this second-generation model are already in place, and the Tucson Fuel Cell replacement may arrive before the end of the decade, according to British car magazine Autocar.

The new model will reportedly target individual consumers more aggressively than the current Tucson Fuel Cell.

Called the ix35 Fuel Cell outside the U.S., most deliveries of Hyundai's hydrogen crossover are to fleets, something that will need to change if fuel-cell vehicles are to gain a meaningful presence in the market.

The second-generation model will reportedly be a similar size to the current Tucson/ix35, but with significant weight reductions.

Back in December, Hyundai and Kia fuel-cell research boss Sae-Hoon Kim said the company's next fuel-cell vehicle would use a dedicated platform.

This would not only make weight reduction easier, but it could also allow for efficiency improvements in other areas by designing the platform around the fuel-cell powertrain.

Kim also said that Hyundai was aiming for a 500-mile range, which probably translates to around 400 miles on the U.S. EPA testing cycle.

That would be a big boost over the estimated 265-mile range of the Tucson Fuel Cell, as well as the EPA-rated 312-mile range of the Toyota Mirai sedan.

Hyundai's Tucson Fuel Cell replacement could also spawn a Kia sister model, which would be that brand's first production fuel-cell vehicle.

Both models are part of the joined Korean carmakers' ambitious green-car expansion plans, which cover not only fuel-cell vehicles but also hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery-electric cars.

They encompass continued sales of the Kia Soul EV, and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid, as well as the 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid.

Then there's the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq hatchback, which will be offered in hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric versions.

Last year, the company delivered 54 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell vehicles, all in Southern California.

This article first appeared in GreenCarReports.

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