We don’t talk much about the hydrogen fuel-cell crossover Hyundai Nexo—but we should probably change that, considering that it not only just survived its first crash test but also scooped up an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ along the way.
The Nexo is currently only available in California, which is why it kind of falls to the wayside in terms of the whole ‘remembering it exists’ thing. It’s also hydrogen powered, which has started playing second fiddle to electric cars when we think of cleaner fuel options. The tech just isn’t as exciting as it was a decade ago.
But the Nexo is proving that hydrogen tech is still holding on for dear life.
According to Hyundai, this is the first-ever hydrogen car to be tested by the IIHS and so, by its very nature, is the first to receive a Top Safety Pick+ award. The Nexo kicked ass all across the board, scoring a bevy of Good ratings with a few Acceptables added in along the way. It also scored quite a few Superior ratings for crash test prevention systems. From the press release:
To qualify for a 2019 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. It also needs an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and a good headlight rating. The NEXO, a midsize premium SUV, has good ratings in all six crashworthiness tests.
Its standard front crash prevention system earned a superior rating. The vehicle avoided collisions in 12 mph and 25 mph track tests and has a forward collision warning system that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria. In addition, NEXO comes with standard high-beam assist, which may automatically switch between high beams and low beams, depending on the presence of other vehicles.
It’s hard to think of hydrogen power without thinking of the Hindenberg disaster, so it is kind of important to actually watch this car crash for yourself. Hyundai has released a video diving into the construction of the fuel cells to prove that they aren’t just going to combust the first time you hop a curb—but as morbid as it sounds, sometimes you just have to see the crash for yourself to actually believe it.
It’s a really cool move from Hyundai... but hydrogen does admittedly have a pretty questionable future in the automotive industry. We’re all focused so heavily on EVs that the hydrogen development window may end up closing before it ever really opened.