Hyundai has hydrogen hopes and an EV show star
Hyundai is preparing for a big push on hydrogen, but it was the Korean manufacturer’s electric concept that got all the attention at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show.
The 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) followed a similar pattern to previous European events with a continued focus on electric powertrains and manufacturers’ different interpretations of battery-powered future mobility solutions. Hyundai was, however, one OEM that did deviate slightly from the script as Thomas Schemera, head of Hyundai’s product division, talked about the potential of hydrogen. Following the promise of a $6.5 billion investment in fuel cells by 2030, there is pressure on the company to deliver, and it has a plan.
“We are not only looking at electric sports cars, we are looking at all power options,” said Schemera. “Regardless of that [power source], we want to be running on clean energy across the board as quickly as possible. No one can predict what direction the market will go next, and we aren’t afforded a transition time with many options, so we need to be ready. What happens in the future is very much dependent on customers and what they want. And for different markets, we also have to consider all sorts of factors, including the environment and the availability of renewable energy.”
So while the hydrogen plans surge forward, the 45 electric concept on the Hyundai stand was a clear indication of how the company is also pushing electrics as it keeps its options open. A tribute to the 1974 Pony Coupé concept, it follows a similar design as the original, but the 45 name is taken from the car’s 45° front and rear angles as well as the length of time between the two vehicles, and it combines it with technology for the future.
There is an 800-V battery pack using silicon carbide cells in the floor. The reveal of the high-voltage pack follows an investment by Hyundai (alongside Kia) into Ionity, a high-speed charging joint venture established in 2017 by BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Co., and Volkswagen Group with Porsche AG. Starting in 2021, Hyundai and Kia EVs will be equipped with 800-V charging systems to take advantage of Ionity’s maximum charging power of 350 kW to its HPC facilities equipped with digital payment options, both of which can significantly reduce charging times and better facilitate long-distance travel. Ionity currently has nearly 140 charging stations in Europe, with 50 more under construction, that use the universal charging standard Combined Charging System to ensure the widest possible compatibility across EVs. It plans to expand its network to 400 fast-charging stations by 2020, with an average of at least one site every 120 km along major European highways.
The positioning of the battery pack under the 45’s floor, said Hyundai, enables the creation of “a space that feels like a living room with new pieces of furniture.” This “living room” means there is plush carpet, swiveling lounge seats, and lots of wood, leather, and fabric to be seen.
Front passengers are able to use the infotainment system via a “projection-beam interface,” which replaces the traditional central touchscreen with a number of functions accessed via a projection on the dashboard. Elsewhere inside the 45, there has been an overhaul of the approach to storage space, with door-mounted “device” pockets enabling books or tablets to be stored. These horizontal pockets are transparent, which makes it plain to see what is being stored and where.
Outside, subtle—potentially useful—touches indicate the EV powertrain. At the bottom of the door there is a series of LEDs that indicate the state of charge and the potential range that the 45 offers. Hyundai says this element was designed to help people who are using an EV for the first time to adjust to the shift from internal combustion engine power.
A component that is likely to make it onto production models sooner is the Camera Monitoring System (CMS). Using side cameras in place of traditional wing mirror, it aims to provide not only a more streamlined vehicle design, but also an improved view of the road and the car’s surroundings. To overcome issues with dirt getting on the lens of the camera, an embedded turntable module rotates the lens past a brush to ensure it is consistently maintained. The CMS also enables pairing to other applications that will facilitate autonomous driving via Hyundai’s open architecture.