Hyundai isn’t putting all of its chips into battery electric vehicles. It does do that too, of course. And it is good at it. But it is also banking on a different type of hybrid powertrain. One that is part hydrogen fuel cell, and part lithium-ion battery.
Looking initially at commercial applications such as buses and semi-trucks, Hyundai has been quietly working over the past few years on this more eco-friendly, hybrid powertrain. The goal was to reduce charging/refueling times to optimize efficiency for these types of vehicles. For these applications, time is, indeed, money. Long charging times for regular EVs could end up affecting a business’s bottom line.
The concept N Vision 74 from Hyundai driving on a track
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles’ exhaust pipes produce pure water vapor and hot air. The primary issue with this fuel is that roughly 95% of the hydrogen produced today uses fossil fuel. This process is called steam reforming, and it produces greenhouse gas emissions. So even though the vehicle that uses this technology from Hyundai might be zero emissions, it still has a carbon footprint behind it. That is because part of the fuel that it uses (hydrogen) comes from a source that is still not clean for the environment.
Rapid Technology Development
A side shot of the N Vision 74 Concept from Hyundai
As technologies evolve, however, the production of hydrogen fuel will likely steer towards zero carbon footprint. With the rate, things are going, and with ever more strict government regulations, it is reasonable to expect this shift to happen in the coming years. This is a concept the industry is referring to as green hydrogen. When it will be mainly produced using renewable sources of energy.
Design Inspired By An Older Concept
A rearview of the N Vision 74 Concept (closest) and of the Pony Coupe Concept that inspired its design (background)
As a show of proof of what its hybrid powertrain can do, Hyundai unveiled the N Vision 74 Concept. A supercar with retro looks, which in turn pays homage to another concept from Hyundai from 1974. The car in question is the Pony Coupe Concept. It was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, and it was supposed to be Korea’s first sports car. Sadly though, it never went into production.
Judging from history, the N Vision 74 Concept could remain just that, a concept. But if we look at its reception by the automotive media, and car enthusiasts, its incredible looks, and performance, it could bridge the gap from concept to a production car. And that’s without even mentioning other advantages such as its range and conveniently fast recharge and refueling time. RobbReport even argues that Hyundai’s N Vision 74 concept is the DeLorean Reboot that you were hoping for, and we couldn’t agree more. Delorean’s Alpha5 EV didn’t quite live up to people’s expectations.
Understanding Hyundai’s Hybrid Powertrain
A Hyundai N Vision Concept 74 drifting on a wet track
Unlike regular fuel cell electric vehicles that use hydrogen fuel cells to feed electricity directly to electric motors that move the vehicle, the N Vision 74 adds a high capacity, 62.4 kWh battery in the mix. The N Vision 74 Concept has two electric motors on the rear axle, which powers the rear wheels independently. This way it can simulate a limited-slip differential. But because of how fast the motors react, the limited slip result is even better.
This priceless concept car follows Hyundai’s ‘rolling lab’ philosophy for testing high-performance tech. It packs experimental technologies that help its engineers learn and develop the car further. In the end, a lot of what is seen on the N Vision 74 can end up in Hyundai’s production cars. Particularly the N Line models.
Ready To Go!
A rear shot of the N Vision 74 Concept on a track at night
Boasting a combined 680 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, the N Vision 74 is a fun, and fast machine. It goes from 0-60 MPH in about four seconds, and it tops out at 155 MPH. Its driving range is about 372 miles. And with 800 Volt fast charging technology, you can have it refueled and charged to 80 percent in five minutes. This dual charging capability of either electricity or hydrogen allows for more flexibility under different operating conditions. But if you want the full 680 horsepower available on tap, you will need both the battery and hydrogen fuel cell working together.
Hyundai’s Rolling Lab has some miles under it. It has worked on several high-performance concepts in the past. Examples are Project RM, RM19, RM20e, RN22e, and the most recent, the N Vision 74. It’s a development strategy that seems to be working well for the automaker.
Hydrogen fuel cell technology is developing fast. Other giants such as Toyota are also betting on hydrogen as a viable green fuel for the future. The N Vision has the potential to be a game changer for Hyundai. It seems to have hit all the right notes and set Hyundai apart from the competition. If well executed, it could threaten the old guard of European sports cars from the likes of BMW M Division, and Mercedes AMG.
Will We See a Production Version?
A front upper shot of a Hyundai N Vision 74 Concept exiting the pit
Clearly then, given the universally positive response to how promising both the design and powertrain on the N Vision 74 look, it would be great if Hyundai can consider putting it into production at some point. In any case, even if we don’t see a production version of the N Vision 74, we should still see this unusual hybrid powertrain in other passenger cars from Hyundai sometime in the future.
This is good news for the automotive world. After all, even though EVs are fun, fast, and efficient, a future where they’re the only viable option seems a bit dull. This mix of style, technology, and high-performance Hyundai showed the world that looks like a good bet for the Korean automaker.