Hyundai lands its first hydrogen fleet in Australia

Government backs environmentally friendly ‘fuel of the future’.

A fleet of 20 zero-emission Hyundai NEXO Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles has landed in Australia ahead of their deployment to the ACT, in what will represent the first use of hydrogen vehicles by any government in Australia. 

The NEXO fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) is similar in size to Hyundai’s Santa Fe SUV but is powered by an electric motor and a fuel-cell. The fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to generate an electric current, with the only by-product being water. 

An FCEV is considered more efficient and reliable than a conventional combustion engine due to fewer moving parts and is significantly lighter than a battery electric vehicle.

In the NEXO’s case, other advantages include its range of 666km (WLTP) and rapid refuelling time of three to five minutes. 

Hyundai NEXO FCEV

Hydrogen is often touted as the “fuel of the future” since it can be made safely from renewable energy sources and is virtually non-polluting. But before hydrogen can become a widely used alternative to petrol, entirely new vehicles, facilities and systems must be built. 

A major challenge for the uptake of hydrogen cars is the lack of refuelling infrastructure but Canberra’s first 700-bar hydrogen refuelling station will provide filling capability for the NEXO fleet when it opens in the third quarter of this year. 

The new Canberra station will become the first publically available hydrogen refuelling station in the country and the only permanent facility of its kind, joining the private hydrogen refuelling station at Hyundai Motor Company headquarters in Sydney. 

Other hydrogen refuellers are expected to come on line in Brisbane and Melbourne by the end of 2020 with stations also planned for New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Hyundai NEXO FCEV

The arrival of the 20-strong fleet of NEXO FCEVs is seen as a significant step towards embracing hydrogen technology in Australia, since the zero emission SUV is the first hydrogen-powered vehicle to achieve Australian Design Rule (ADR) certification. 

It is also the FCEV to be awarded the maximum five-star overall safety rating by Australia’s ANCAP.

Hyundai Motor Company Australia CEO Jun Heo said although hydrogen mobility was not yet a mainstream alternative in Australia, the company’s progressive vision would help the technology play a key role in a low-CO2 motoring future.

“For a long time, hydrogen has been touted as the fuel of the future,” Mr Heo said.

“However, with the arrival of a fleet of NEXO FCEVs for the Australian Capital Territory Government, we’re pleased to say that it’s now the fuel of today.

“NEXO is the embodiment of our long-term commitment to introducing hydrogen-powered transport in Australia and around the world.”

Other car makers, including Honda and Toyota, have hydrogen-powered vehicles in low-volume series production. 

Hyundai’s first-generation ix35 FCEV became the first hydrogen-powered vehicle to be permanently imported into Australia in 2015 and Toyota has had examples of its Mirai FCEV undergoing testing here for several years. 

Hyundai NEXO FCEV

But the NEXO is significant in that it has both ADR certification and a five-star ANCAP rating, enabling the 20-strong fleet to be used in a variety of real-world applications across several ACT Government departments.  

Hyundai claims the NEXO has a near-silent drivetrain, offering much-reduced external noise, which is especially beneficial in urban environments, and combines clean mobility with the latest autonomous driving capabilities and smart advanced driving assistance systems.

At the end of 2019, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) unanimously endorsed Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy, which acknowledges the important role hydrogen mobility can play in establishing Australia at the forefront of the global hydrogen industry by 2030. 

Car makers like Toyota and Hyundai are working cooperatively to grow a sustainable hydrogen industry in Australia through their membership of the Hydrogen Council of Australia.