Hyundai has pulled the covers off its next-generation hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) in Seoul today – the SUV, set to go on sale early next year, is part of the South Korean conglomerate’s plan to boost the number of eco-friendly vehicles in its stable from 14 to 31 by the year 2020.

The new powertrain features significant improvements over the one in the Tucson FCEV in terms of efficiency, performance, durability and storage of core hydrogen fuel cell systems. Firstly, system efficiency is now up to 60% thanks to the improved performance and hydrogen utilization rate of the fuel cell, as well as the optimisation of components. As such, Hyundai targets a range of 580 km with this car.

Meanwhile, variable pressure control technology allows for a maximum power output of 163 PS, 20% higher than before. A membrane electrode assembly (MEA) and metal separator technology, key components of a hydrogen electrocatalyst fuel cell system, have also been included, while an FCEV-optimised production system that incorporates core components has increased the localisation of the technology, reducing cost.

Cold starts is another issue with FCEVs that Hyundai has sought to tackle, with the new model being able to start at minus 30 degrees Celsius. The company has also managed to achieve the world’s highest hydrogen storage density by optimising the hydrogen tank , and claims that its fuel cell will be able to last 160,000 km over the course of 10 years, the equivalent of a regular internal combustion engine.

The design of the new FCEV is certainly distinctive, with bi-level headlights similar to the Kona B-segment SUV. The upper LED daytime running lights, are joined together by a chrome bar and is said to be inspired by the horizon. This signifies the present and the future, symbolising the company’s hydrogen technology. Front and centre is the signature Cascading Grille.

Along the sides, airflow passes through an air curtain in the front bumper and flows towards the rear of the car, over the two-piece aerodynamic alloy wheels. Flush-mounted door handles and an air tunnel in the D-pillars also contribute to aerodynamic efficiency, while a cut in the D-pillars gives the SUV a floating roof look.

Inside, there’s a horizontal dashboard layout and a high centre console that is said to maximise space and ensure a “unique sense of boarding.” A flat panel with large twin displays, one for the instruments and the other for the infotainment system, has also been fitted, reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz E- and S-Class.

Aside from the new hydrogen vehicle, Hyundai also plans to launch 10 hybrid vehicles, 11 plug-in hybrids and eight electric vehicles, including mid- and full-size hybrid SUVs, a Kona-based EV with a 390 km range and a dedicated EV capable of travelling over 500 km on a single charge. A Genesis-branded EV will also be unveiled in 2021.