This week Hyundai New Zealand’s first hydrogen powered SUV, NEXO, made its driving debut on one of the most breathtaking roads in New Zealand, Te Anau to Milford Sound, a fitting choice for the zero-emission vehicle. Following is a press release from Hyundai on the vehicle.

NEXO is the technological flagship of Hyundai’s growing eco-vehicle portfolio and marks Hyundai’s continued momentum with the industry’s most diverse SUV powertrain lineup.

NEXO spearheads Hyundai Motor’s plans to accelerate development of low emission vehicles, in line with Hyundai Motor Group’s renewed goal of introducing 18 eco-friendly models to global markets by 2025. This new development roadmap also represents the next step for Hyundai Motor toward realising the ultimate ambition of creating a cleaner environment through eco-friendly vehicles.

While NEXO is Hyundai’s second-generation of commercialised fuel cell electric vehicle, it is the first to be introduced to New Zealand. NEXO is currently available in select markets around the world. Improving on the acclaimed ix35 FCEV, the NEXO has an estimated driving range of 605km (WLTP), a range significantly further than its predecessor. Acceleration and power have increased to improve the overall performance.

It’s designed to handle extreme temperature and environments, and according to Hyundai NEXO testing has proven that the vehicle is capable of starting after being subject to overnight temperatures of -29 degrees celsius. NEXO boasts cold start capability within 30 seconds, an industry-leading achievement, and the fuel cell system warms up faster for maximum performance. NEXO also has excellent cooling performance on steep grades with temperatures exceeding 49-degree celsius. 

Improvements in the air supply system, performance at high altitudes and refueling times, along with overall efficiency and fuel economy put the NEXO in a class of its own. In addition, the NEXO has improved power density and durability comparable with a petrol-powered vehicle.

NEXO’s fuel cell electric powertrain offers the latest in fuel cell electric vehicle technology, with increased performance over its ix35 Fuel Cell predecessor. An on-board electric motor produces 120kW and a torque of 395 Nm, drawing power from an under-bonnet fuel cell stack, which combines oxygen from the surrounding air with hydrogen from NEXO’s high-pressure storage tanks. The result is electricity to power the motor and charge the battery, and water vapour, which harmlessly exits through the exhaust. With full tanks of hydrogen on board, NEXO is capable of travelling 605km (WLTP), before being able to refuel in under six minutes. 

Outside of its environmentally friendly powertrain, NEXO also has an advanced air purification system which filters 99.9% of very fine dust (PM2.5). The vehicle shows the exact amount of air purified on the display panel in the car. NEXO has also been independently awarded the UL Bio Environmental Seal for the use of bio fibres from sugar cane waste and vegetable plasticisers in the headliner and carpet areas, bio plastics from sugar cane and corn waste in door, seat, pillar and console trims and bio paint extracted from rapeseed and soybean oils for the dashboard and centre console.

Andy Sinclair, General Manager, Hyundai New Zealand, said: “NEXO is an exceptional by-product of Hyundai’s investment in Fuel Cell technology. It’s an advanced technological vehicle with only clean emissions, and provides us with another sustainable SUV to add to our future EV line up. Already we have seen much interest in NEXO since we revealed it in June.”

“The exact date for NEXO going to market in New Zealand ultimately depends on New Zealand’s ability to provide the infrastructure for the hydrogen fuelling stations. We are taking expressions of interest from commercial businesses that are investing in their own hydrogen infrastructure and who would like to be an early adopter of this technology.

“Hydrogen energy is the key to building a more sustainable future. We were one of the founding members and the first automotive manufacturer to join the NZ Hydrogen Association in 2018.”

NEXO was the first FCEV to achieve a maximum five-star overall rating in Euro NCAP’s safety test. In addition, Hyundai NEXO became the first hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) tested by the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), earning a TOP SAFETY PICK+ award. NEXO is the first such hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that IIHS has tested. A vehicle such as NEXO would not normally be included in the IIHS routine test schedule, but Hyundai nominated its own NEXO for early testing. Evaluating the NEXO was also beneficial to IIHS, by offering its first early opportunity to evaluate a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

Sinclair adds: “As well as pioneering future mobility, Hyundai’s cars are also among the safest. The 5-star Euro NCAP rating confirms Hyundai’s commitment to provide customers and other road users with the highest level of safety and innovative mobility solutions.”

NEXO features Hyundai’s Smart Sense safety suite (drive assistance technologies) and other smart tech features in the NEXO include smart parking assist and remote parking assist.

Dedicated Architecture

For the first time ever, Hyundai’s fuel cell vehicle is built with a dedicated vehicle architecture. This architecture has many benefits including:

  • Lighter weight
  • Improved power-to-weight ratio
  • Faster acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h than the ix35 FCEV
  • More cabin space
  • Allows the battery to be relocated to the trunk
  • Improved fuel cell system layout

NEXO vs. Tucson Fuel Cell System Architecture

  • NEXO’s fuel cell stack and battery have more net power to supply a more powerful motor
  • NEXO’s powertrain is lighter and has improved packaging

Increased hydrogen storage tanks capacity

Powertrain Improvements

  • NEXO’s powertrain is lighter and takes up less space compared with ix35 FCEV
  • More efficient
  • Better module integration
  • Smaller
  • Lighter


  • Peak acceleration is increased by 25 percent compared with ix35 FCEV
  • NEXO accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h 20 percent faster than ix35 FCEV
  • NEXO has more torque than the ix35 FCEV


  • NEXO has an estimated driving range of 605 km (WLTP)

Quiet and Comfortable Driving Characteristics

  • NEXO maintains the quiet and comfortable driving characteristics of the ix35 FCEV
  • All of the NEXO’s moving parts are inside the engine bay which isolates the noise to one area


  • NEXO has the same level of durability as internal combustion engine vehicles

Hydrogen Storage

  • EXO’s storage system is lighter than the ix35 FCEV
  • NEXO’s storage system has world-class storage density
  • Added multi-layer, 1” thick carbon fiber storage tanks \
  • NEXO can be refueled within six minutes at 700 bar maximum pressure

Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS)

NEXO offers a number of advanced driver assist systems, including Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Lane Following Assist (LFA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), High Beam Assist (HBA) and Remote Smart Parking Assist (RSPA).

Remote Smart Parking Assist (RSPA)

RSPA enables NEXO to either autonomously park or retrieve itself from either a parallel or perpendicular parking space with or without a driver in the vehicle. The RSPA system can even autonomously back NEXO into a parking spot with a touch of a key fob button by the driver. When faced with any challenging parking scenario, NEXO drivers will be able to park with complete confidence and reduced stress.

Lane Following Assist

LFA automatically assists steering to help keep NEXO more precisely centered in its current lane of travel. LFA can help keep NEXO centered in its lane at speeds between zero and 145 kilometers per hour on both highways and city streets. This advanced driving assistance feature is an additional aid helping drivers to traverse long distances with greater ease.

Blind-spot View Monitor (BVM) and Surround-view Monitors (SVM)

Hyundai’s Blind-spot View Monitor is an industry-first technology. It projects the side views of NEXO in the center cluster to the driver using cameras while changing lanes with the turn signal on. The system uses wide-angle Surround View Monitors (SVM) on each side of the vehicle to monitor areas that cannot be seen by a traditional rearview mirror and create various exterior vehicle perspective views. Hyundai is the first automaker to provide drivers with video footage from both sides of the vehicle with this feature.

Blind-spot Collision-Avoidance Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist

BCA and RCCA both utilize sensor technologies to help alert the NEXO driver of approaching vehicles in its intended path, whether changing lanes or when backing out of a parking spot. Blind-spot Collision-Avoidance may also provide steering correction assistance via mild braking to specific wheels when the turn signal is on and the system detects a vehicle in the blind spot area of NEXO.

Outstanding Range, Power and Efficiency

The NEXO has an estimated driving range of 605 km under the WLTP testing protocol.

In addition, NEXO refueling time can be achieved in as little as six minutes, allowing a consumer lifestyle very similar to a comparable petrol-powered SUV in terms of range and refueling speed. NEXO hydrogen storage uses three separate hydrogen tanks in the rear of the vehicle. These are configured to maximize overall interior volume, especially in the rear cargo area, increasing it by 164 litres over the ix35 Fuel Cell and allowing for a flatter load floor.

With 120 kW of peak power and 395 Nm. of torque, acceleration and power have also increased to improve NEXO overall performance compared with ix35 fuel cell.

Eco Materials

NEXO uses a number of ecological materials in its construction, including soybean-oil based polyurethane paint, bamboo-thread-based bio fabric, bio-plastic extracted from sugar cane and bio-carpet extracted from sugar cane. Bio-based materials were applied to 47 different parts and reduced CO2 emissions by 12 kg during the manufacturing process.

Advanced Aerodynamics

NEXO features a number of aerodynamic design features, including a D-pillar air tunnel, front wheel air curtains, aerodynamic wheel design, auto-flush door handles and hidden front wipers. These contribute to an overall Cd of 0.32, excellent for an SUV of this size.

Structure, Suspension and Handling

To achieve an ultra-rigid structure while maintaining a light weight, NEXO uses Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS). AHSS also reduces cabin NVH and gives the suspension a rigid structure from which to precisely articulate body movements.

NEXO utilizes a fully-independent McPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension for both sporty cornering feel and superior ride comfort. Steering uses a motor-driven system tuned for smoothness and responsiveness. Hankook® tyres are fitted to the 19-inch alloy wheels for excellent handling and good ride comfort.

Extreme Temperatures

Designed to handle extreme temperatures and environments, NEXO testing has proven that the vehicle is capable of starting after being subject to overnight temperatures of -20 degrees Fahrenheit. NEXO boasts cold-start capability within 30 seconds, an industry-leading benchmark, and the fuel cell system warms up quickly for maximum performance. The NEXO also has excellent cooling performance on steep grades with temperatures exceeding 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Improvements in the air supply system, performance at high altitudes and refueling times, along with overall efficiency and fuel economy, put the NEXO in a class all its own. In addition, NEXO has improved power density and durability comparable with gasoline-powered vehicles of a similar class.

Convenience and Audio

NEXO features a number of advanced comfort and convenience features, including a sunroof, electric parking brake, smart power tailgate, Qi wireless smartphone charging pad, Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto®, Text-to-Speech via Bluetooth®, heated and ventilated front seats and split-folding rear seats. For 2020, a newly-available cargo cover, front passenger window auto-up/down and rear privacy glass are now standard on Blue models. Audio and navigation display is via a large, high-resolution 12.3 inch touchscreen, while the center cluster supervision display is a full seven inches. Transmission control is via a push-button shift-by-wire design on a floating center-console bridge, freeing up valuable center console storage space directly below the control console.

NEXO features a high-performance audio system. This premium Krell® system features a 440-watt, eight-channel premium amplifier, premium Krell speakers and a custom-developed live dynamic algorithm for superior audio performance.

Trims and Color

NEXO is offered in a single high specific Limited trim. This Limited model includes 19-inch alloy wheels, sunroof, power lift gate and remote smart parking assist. NEXO colors include white pearl, cocoon silver, titanium gray matte, copper metallic and dusk blue. Interior environments include stone gray and meteor blue and use a vegan-based leatherette seating surface.

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Fred Alvrez
How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.


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