Hyundai breaks from the pack with fuel-cell SUV

Nora Naughton
The Detroit News

Las Vegas — Hyundai Motor Co. is moving forward with hydrogen fuel-cell technology despite the automotive industry’s growing investment in battery-electric vehicles.

The Korea automaker rolled out the NEXO, a hydrogen fuel-cell electric SUV made for mass production, at the CES technology show Monday. But this car is more than just zero-emissions: it’s also equipped with autonomous driver-assist features, including a remote parking system that allows the vehicle to drive itself to and from a garage or parking space at the push of a button.

The NEXO, which will be available in select markets sometime this year, is Hyundai’s second mass-produced fuel cell vehicle. The first was a version of the Tucson crossover.

A majority of automakers are investing in battery-electric vehicles over hydrogen fuel cell, mainly due to a lack of fueling infrastructure for the latter.

Hyundai also demonstrated new driver-assist technologies tailored to autonomous or semi-autonomous driving conditions. The next-generation cockpit features driver stress detection, artificial intelligence and voice control for climate control, door locks and sunroofs. It also includes car-to-home connectivity.

Sensors in the steering wheel and driver’s seat track the driver’s heart rate. If the vehicle senses the driver is under stress, it can connect to a doctor online or turn on a soothing playlist while dimming cabin lighting.

Hyundai also announced earlier this week it would partner with self-driving start-up Aurora to deploy self-driving vehicles by 2021. The automaker is working with Aurora to integrate the developer’s self-driving technology into its vehicle platforms.