Hyundai Sprinkles Fuel Cell Fairy Sparkles On N Vision 74 EV

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Hyundai Motor Group has been on a battery-electric car roll of late, highlighted by a newly announced EV battery joint venture to support its forthcoming megafactory in Georgia. Nevertheless, the Korean automaker is still determined to make fuel cell cars happen. The latest development is the fuel cell hybrid electric N Vision 74 sports car, a riff on the company’s iconic 1974 Pony Coupe Concept car. It may be going into production soon — or not, as the case may be.

Which Came First, The Fuel Cell Pony Car Or The Cybertruck?

Before we get into the tech details of the N Vision 74, let’s take a look at the distinctive styling. Hyundai attributes the N Vision 74 design inspiration to the Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, who created the sleek, futuristic look of the 1974 Pony Coupe Concept car back in the 20th century.

Take a look at Giugiaro’s 1974 version:

Does that resemble a Tesla Cybertruck? Just asking. If you have any thoughts about that, drop us a note in the comment thread.

You may notice one obvious difference right off the bat. The B-Pillar, which is the vertical support that typically stands just to the rear of the driver’s seat, is practically a no-show in the Cybertruck. In contrast, the new N Vision 74 sports a solid B Pillar in homage to the original 1974 design.

The Hyundai N Vision 74 Fuel Cell Car

Aside from partially sharing a design aesthetic, the Hyundai N Vision 74 and the Cybertruck are both electric vehicles. That’s where the similarities end. The Cybertruck deploys a battery pack for locomotion, while the N Vision 74 incorporates fuel cell technology for additional propulsion and improved performance.

“Power is provided by an 85 kW hydrogen fuel cell stack on the front, a 62 kWh lithium-ion battery between the driver and the passenger, and two 2.1 kg hydrogen tanks on the rear to provide a driving distance of nearly 600 km,” Hyundai explained in a press release dated May 20.

The N Vision began to take shape several years ago and it slipped under the CleanTechnica radar. We caught wind of it after Hyundai featured the fuel cell car in the company’s debut appearance at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este classic and prototype car show earlier in May, where it created quite a stir.

The N Vision is part of Hyundai’s “Rolling Labs” series, which Hyundai described as its platform for testing and verifying advanced technologies. In other words, it is apparently not heading into production as such. Hyundai emphasized that the Rolling Labs series is aimed at future production models, in support of its “ambition to become a leader in the zero-tailpipe-emissions future.”

However, Hyundai sure seemed up for teasing a launch. “N Vision 74 is a culmination of Hyundai’s heritage design, state-of-the-art technology and N brand’s emotional high performance, representing Hyundai N’s long-term vision for a sustainable high-performance future beyond electrification,” the company enthused.

Don’t Hold Your Breath…

The mixed signals from Hyundai could be behind a rumor that cropped up a few weeks ago, when the Korean publication Money Today scooped news that the N Vision 74 is heading for production.

The global automotive media quickly picked up on the story. One representative example was Car and Driver, which reported that “one of the coolest concept cars in recent history could be making its way to production.”

“The Hyundai N Vision 74 concept was an instant hit when it was revealed last year as part of the automaker’s ‘N Day’ event held in South Korea. A report today by a Korean news outlet claims Hyundai has greenlit the concept for production, and that the company will make an official announcement on May 27,” Car and Driver added.

Car and Driver cautioned that the Money Today article did not include solid sourcing, and May 27 has come and gone, so anyone excited by the prospect of a production version of the N Vision 74 will have to wait and see what happens.

…Unless You’re In The Market For A Fuel Cell Truck

If Hyundai can pull off a production version of the N Vision 74, there still remains the question of selling it. That’s a good question. Fuel cell cars are beginning to edge into various markets around the globe, but the going has been slow, especially here in the US. Hyundai has been attempting to get a leg up through a collaboration with the US Department of Energy, but so far not much has come of it.

Looking beyond sedans, though, the picture looks a bit more promising for US sales of fuel cell EVs. Honda, for example, is banking on a new fuel cell electric hybrid SUV for the US market, based on its popular CR-V. The plan is to include a plug-in feature for battery-powered driving in addition to the fuel cell.

Honda appears to be treading carefully. The fuel cell hybrid will be produced at its small-batch factory in Marysville, Ohio, indicating that the company may be eyeballing the fleet market and luxury markets instead of trying to appeal to everyday drivers.

Meanwhile, Hyundai is getting ready to roll its XCIENT fuel cell truck into the US. If all goes according to plan, the US will be the sixth market for the XCIENT since Hyundai first introduced it in 2020. Hyundai calculates that truck drivers in  Switzerland, Germany, Israel, Korea, and New Zealand have logged more than 4 million miles on the vehicle so far.

“It is the only heavy-duty fuel cell electric model with a proven record of real-world application and technological reliability,” Hyundai emphasizes.

Hyundai better not let the grass grow under its feet. Activity in the heavy duty truck area has been starting to pick up in the US, with even the on-again, off-again US electric truck startup Nikola potentially leading the charge.

What About The Hydrogen?

In past years, the auto industry had to rely on natural gas as the primary source of hydrogen for fuel cells, which cast a gloomy cloud of unsustainability over the technology.

The recent emergence of a market for green hydrogen from water provides fuel cell stakeholders with an opportunity to break free from fossil sources. That assumes supply can catch up to demand, including demand from steel making and other industries as well as transportation.

That remains to be seen, but keep an eye out for the latest developments in new “artificial leaf” research that could help resolve the green hydrogen supply issue, eventually.

No more Trainwreck Twitter. Find me on Spoutible: @TinaMCasey or LinkedIn @TinaMCasey or Mastodon @Casey or Post: @tinamcasey

Photos (both cropped):

1. Hyundai “Rolling Laboratory” N Vision 74 fuel cell car courtesy of Hyundai.

2. 1974 Hyundai Pony Coupe Concept car courtesy of Hyundai via prnewswire.

 


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