Only weeks after announcing plans to put its first fuel-cell vehicle into production by spring, Hyundai is ready to reveal another hydrogen car concept.
And the Intrado prototype coming to the 2014 Geneva Motor Show appears to underscore how serious the Korean carmaker is about taking fuel cell technology out of the science lab and putting it onto the road.
The Intrado is more than just a technical exercise, however, the concept incorporating the second-generation Fluidic Design styling language that Hyundai recently revealed with the unveiling of its 2015 Genesis luxury sedan.
“Hyundai Intrado envisages a motoring future that encapsulates the efficiency and freedom associated with flying,” explained Peter Schreyer, President & CDO of Hyundai Motor Group. “I believe in the power of mobility to deliver emotional as well as physical connections and this car helps us find again the joy of discovery. Intrado shows that future cars can be both relevant and exciting.”
(Click Here for a look at the new Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicle.
Fuel cells combine hydrogen with oxygen to produce a stream of current that can be used to power a vehicle’s electric motors – which is why some proponents refer to a fuel cell “stack” as a “refillable battery.” The only thing coming out of the tailpipe, meanwhile, is water vapor.
The technology has been around since the mid-1800s, developed by British chemist William Grove, but it was only with the launch of the Apollo program that fuel cells found practical application. Around the turn of the millennium, many manufacturers began tinkering with the technology, though it was eclipsed by lithium-ion battery power. Now, as the industry recognizes the range and cost limitations of batteries, the spotlight has rediscovered hydrogen technology.
(Honda unveils new FCEV fuel cell concept vehicle. Click Here for a close-up.)
At the recent L.A. Auto Show and concurrent Tokyo Motor Show, three makers unveiled production plans for fuel cell vehicles. Toyota and Honda plan to bring theirs to market in 2015 while Hyundai said it wants to begin limited sales of a fuel cell-powered Tucson crossover by early next year. To increase demand, it announced plans to lease the vehicle for a flat $499 a month, which includes all the hydrogen a motorist might need.
(Toyota readying hydrogen car for 2014. Click Here to find out more.)
Of course, finding the lightweight gas is a challenge, with barely a dozen stations available in California today. But the state has announced plans to increase that to 100 hydrogen pumps by decade’s end. New York is also looking to subsidize the infrastructure, as are several countries including Germany and Japan.
Curiously, some of the biggest breakthroughs have been occurring with the development of the fuel cell stack itself – the hydrogen equivalent of an engine. Hyundai says the Intrado features a next-generation stack lighter and smaller than the one currently in use in its first fuel cell vehicle – which is based on the European ix35 crossover.
The name, Intrado, comes from the aerospace world, incidentally, the term used to describe the underside of a wing – making it a critical component to permit flight.