Hyundai’s surprise announcement at the Consumer Electric Show (CES) in Las Vegas wasn’t about its Nexo fuel-cell SUV (above), but that it is developing a hybrid sports car.
The Nexo SUV and its high-tech equipment was expected but the news about the sports car wasn’t.
The carmaker’s design chief Luc Donkerwolke told reporters at CES: “We are definitely doing it. I am reviewing a project this week after CES. Definitely, we are doing that, we are not going to go for autonomous for all the cars now.”
Donkerwolke, who designed the Lamborghini Gallardo and Mucielago, was backed up by Hyundai’s vice-chairman of research and development, Yang Woong Chul, who said the two-seater would be “serious sports car”.
The petrol-electric powertrain would either power the rear wheels or perhaps all four. The car might look like the Passocorto concept pictured here.
Would it be badged as an “N” car, or sit higher in the carmaker’s line-up? The N division at Hyundai is headed by the former chief of BMW’s M division, Albert Biermann.
Said Chul: “The people working on N will be working on that, but where do we put it? The N or above N? It’s really high performance. We cannot say just hybrid. We will use some electric motors and batteries to give it more performance.
“Some areas we can’t just overcome by putting in a big internal combustion engine. We would like to minimise as much as possible and use the best application of electric motors, not just for efficiency but performance.”
The Nexo SUV spearheads Hyundai’s plans to grow low emission cars and is one of 18 it will bring to market by 2025.
“Hydrogen energy is the key to building a more sustainable society,” said Dr. Woong-chul Yang, company vice-chairman.
“Hyundai Motor Company has already taken a lead in hydrogen technology with the introduction of the ix35 fuel cell.”
The Nexo is the carmaker’s second-generation fuel cell electric vehicle that will be available in selected global markets later this year.
It is powered by a 95kW fuel cell and 40kW battery and paired to a 120kW motor, which produces 390Nm of torque.
It is believed to have a range of around 800km on a single charge, roughly 220km more than its predecessor, the ix35.
Nexo’s fuel-cell system warms up faster to increase its performance, allowing it to start in temperatures as cold as -29C.