2019 Hyundai Nexo: A Commendable, But Costly, Glimpse Into The Future

Some say the future of cars is electric, whereas others believe that hydrogen is the best solution for ‘green’ transportation. Hyundai is ready for both, with the hydrogen part, which is also the most costly and much less popular of the two, at least for now, covered by the Nexo.

It is a front-wheel drive fuel cell SUV that runs purely on hydrogen and emits nothing more than water vapors.

The Nexo uses a 161 hp (163 PS / 120 kW) and 291 lb-ft (394 Nm) powertrain and goes to 60 mph (96 km/h) in a respectable 9.5 seconds. According to Hyundai, it can be driven for up to 380 miles (612 km) before needing a refill.

Also Read: Hyundai And Kia Betting On Fuel Cells As The World Goes Electric

With a $58,300 starting price in California, the Nexo isn’t what you’d call affordable. In fact, it’s more expensive than a base Audi Q7, which can be had from $53,550. Of course, the Q7 doesn’t run on hydrogen, but it is larger and has an all-wheel drive system. Factor in the fact that it costs about $80 to refuel the Nexo, and you’ll quickly realize that there’s still some way to go before hydrogen-powered cars become viable.

There are some obvious advantages to owning the Nexo, though, such as the fact that it drives pretty much like an EV, that is silently – and, according to Consumer Reports, offers a comfortable ride and quite responsive handling.

Except for a few gimmicks, such as the push-button gear selector which wasn’t appreciated by the reviewer, the rest of the cabin is pretty straightforward. Space at the back is comparable to other compact SUVs and the equipment range is more than satisfactory. The Nexo is even fitted with a remote parking feature, which doesn’t require a driver to be present behind the wheel in order to squeeze into a parking space.


  • Six_Tymes

    and inhales twice the amount of oxygen that its gasoline counter part needs. at least that’s what I read it requires

    • MultiKdizzle

      Why is that bad?

  • Kash

    If you don’t want to deal with EV problems such as long charge times then the $80 to fill up is worth the time you save rather than sitting at a supercharger or having to remember to plug your car in at night. TBH we should be investing in hydrogen rather than BEV’s but BEV’s seem to be more marketable and I guess the buzzword of the decade.

    • Having to plug your car at night being more complicated (that’s basically 5 seconds when you get home) than making a detour just to fill up your car? I hope you are joking.
      Also a typical EV range of 200-300km is not enough only in cases of longer trips when anyway you have to stop to eat. If you stop for some food then a wait time of 30 mins for charging is nothing.
      You try to justify short charging time and completely ignore the environmental aspect, which is that a hydrogen powered car is ~80% less effective than a BEV.

      • Not to destroy your argument but we don’t all have the luxury of owning a driveway where we can park our car overnight to charge. Running a 10m+ extention cord down the road or out of your apartment window is not going to cut it. Until the infrastructure is there, true EV adoption will not occur.

        • No, I completely agree with you. Governments must invest in public charging infrastructure or at least show their plan or lack of so that private investors can build theirs. It’s possible to own an EV even without home charging, but then you need to have charging possibility close to your workplace, gym, shopping mall or whatever you visit for a longer period of time.

          • It shouldn’t be up to the government though, that’s the issue. Oil companies are responsible for petrol stations and if manufacturers are going to insist on brand-individual / collective chargers, it should be up to them to develop the infrastructure – well, at least push for it first if they want governments to incentivise *later* development.

            If Shell or BP want to open another petrol station, the government shouldn’t pay for it. In cases where it is of an advantagous situation where a petrol station is required, should governmental money be supplemented. But even then, not the full cost.

            As this isn’t currently happening, the limited charging availability is continuing to fall behind the ‘surging’ PHEV / EV uptake. The situation is made worse with current paradigm shift of ICE vehicles and declining diesles where we’re seeing higher percentages of year-on-year sales. If the manufacturers can’t assume their responsibility, then the concept of alternative-fuel ownership will falter.

            ICE is still too much of a ‘safe base’ where there is no compromise on ownership. A-F vehicles have a lot, and the persuasion required to transfer is not so easy as people imagine (I have no charging availability at home or at work, rendering EV ownership literally impossible for me). Ideally, we need A-F public transport first. Follow in the footsteps of China where they’ve already seen a fantastic decrease in air pollution.

            An accurate blanket summarisation for the progression of PHEV / EVs required, is that we need to be open-minded and not concede to one statistic as a reason to change. We need to be thoughtful of other factors by providing a plan that best suits environmental, social, poltical *and* economical factors. Rushing in makes us run out of rythem, causing us more to regress than to progress. And no, this isn’t an extended metaphor for Brexit.

      • mihsf

        In many countries when people do longer trips to go on holidays, everyone does it at the same time. The number of chargers will be far lower than the number of people who need it. Thus your solution doesn’t work at all. People need very fast charging (5 min) or very long range.

        • Are you suggesting that people use the same petrol station? Not really. Of course such details need to be taken into account when building the charging network.

          • mihsf

            When nearly 200 000 vehicles take the same road at the same time for holidays, you understand why.

      • Kash

        I didn’t say it was complicated, I said having to remember, life happens and if you forget to charge your car when you get home because you have groceries to unload or kids to rangle or maybe you get an unexpected phone call just as you step out of your car, you can’t just stop and charge your car on the way into work. If you forget to fill up with hydrogen you can do that before work and not require a ton of extra time. even just doing a short charge to get range to go to and from work, say 30 mins, requires planning for it and if you have kids you not be able to add in that extra time.

        What car can be charged in 30 mins fully? A Model S takes 10 hours to fully charge using 220v outlets (over an hour using a supercharger still) and most EV’s are still seeing absurdly long times. To fully charge a Nissan Leaf using a 220 outlet it takes 7.5 hours and the Leaf’s range? 151 miles.

        It takes 5 minutes to fill the Nexo and that tank gets you 380 miles and the only byproduct from your vehicle is literally water. Even comparing it to the Model S, which still has a shorter range, why would you want to wait that long for a full charge unless you’re at a supercharger and have something else to do while your car charges, but if you don’t have anything else to do then you’re stuck waiting potentially over an hour, depending on how many cars are there, to fully charge your vehicle and if you’re on vacation why would you want to do that? Why would you want to wait at essentially a gas station for over an hour to charge your vehicle with your kids and wife in the car? I’d kill my husband if we had to do that on one of our trips to and from LA or down to see his family in Mexico.

        Depending on how much your time is worth, I guess you could justify the longer times, but for me I rather pump and go and if that means paying the extra money then so be it. You’ll also be surprised to find out that there’s plenty of other people who will agree with that sentiment.

        To produce both hydrogen and electricity can be pretty bad for the environment. Not all electricity is made from solar and wind power and most hydroelectric facilities required some part of nature to be destroyed or altered so they could go in, or they interrupt the natural beauty of the area they’re in. Hydrogen production, when you create it using Steam Reforming, yes it super bad, but there’s also electrolysis which, true eats about 30% of the H2’s efficiency right off the bat, but the PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) form of H2 production uses less energy, down to roughly 20% currently, its expected to only get more efficient and we should see H2 become as efficient as 90% instead of it’s current 70-80% by 2030 and depending on where the electricity comes from to power your BEV you can be looking at far worse efficiency scores for BEV’s.

        What will be really interesting is to see Japan in the next decade or 2 as they build up their H2 infrastructure which they’re doubling down on, both the government and local manufacturers in a joint venture to become the world’s first hydrogen society and have planned out 80 fueling stations to be built by 2022.

  • bd0007

    Hyundai, Toyota, Honda and GM all believe that the long-term future for “electrics” is w/ FCEVs.

    Audi has partnered up w/ Hyundai as have GM and Honda.

  • Bash

    Why don’t they just make a universal super chargers that works on every damn EV car. Just like how we all use the same gas pump.

    • Selfishness. Manufacturers will have to pay the (very expensive) upfront cost, so they’re pretty much waiting on others to do it first before they pay into it.

    • Kash

      mostly for the same reason Apple and Samsung use different chargers for their phones.

  • TheBelltower

    Hydrogen is like trying to make “fetch” happen. As much as some industries would love for us to continue to be reliant upon the massive fueling infrastructure that hydrogen requires, it just isn’t going to happen. We might as well start planning on how we are going to use the vacant real estate that currently occupies a gas station on nearly every corner of every intersection within every suburb.

  • Craig

    It will be interesting to see what wins in the end. I still believe that ICE’s are far from dead. In fact – I think that in the not too distant future we’ll see ICE’s that that emit not much more than cars like this Nexo. Wasn’t Mazda about to introduce something?

  • Tumbi Mtika

    You have to be making hydrogen cars for their cost to go down.

    The Battery-Hydrogen war is still being kept alive by Asia. Props to Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai. Audi’s also dipping their toes in too, which is welcome. Multiple solutions need to be viable at the same time.

    • The irony is that most hydrogen cars are an EV at their core – instead of a battery, it’s hydrogen which feeds the electric motors. Theoretically, if we see diminshing prices on EV cars, hydrogen vehicles should also follow, even if not completely. Anyway, the real winners will be Toyota, Honda and Hyundai / Kia when the technology makes a breakthrough and they can collectively own the monopoly.

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