Hyundai Intrado Hydrogen Fuel Cell Crossover (CONCEPT)

Written By: Brittney B.

Edited By: Assen Gueorguiev

For at least a decade, the biggest innovations in the automotive industry have been driven by a demand for fewer emissions and higher mileage. Hybrid and plug-in vehicles are here to stay, and even holdouts like Chrysler are scrambling to mass-produce cars that can run on electricity instead of gasoline. However, Hyundai's most recent efforts are focused on a different fuel alternative altogether: hydrogen. At the Geneva Motor Show in March 2014, the Korean automaker finally unveiled its long-hyped hydrogen fuel cell concept car, the Hyundai Intrado.

Hyundai Intrado Hydrogen Fuel Cell Concept

Harnessing the power of hydrogen energy

Created at Hyundai's German research and development site, the Intrado is a breakthrough in automotive engineering. However, the hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) isn't a brand new concept:

  • Honda made a desperate attempt in 2008 with the FCX Clarity. Released in very limited numbers, it was finally discontinued in mid 2014, so that it can make path for the next generation Honda FCV, expected in 2016.

  • Very few government officials have been driving fuel cell Mazdas in Japan since 2008.

  • Of course, we have to mention Toyota and its plan to put the hydrogen Mirai on the streets of California in summer-fall of 2016.

  • And last but not least, lets also give credit to these auto giants who have made significant fuel cell technology advancements, and have already presented us with some astonishing concepts/prototypes – Nissan, Audi and Aston Martin.

However, lets not forget that Hyundai already set the precedent when it debuted the world's first series-production hydrogen car in late 2014 - the Tucson

Sold as the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell in Australia and Europe, the Hyundai Tucson is a zero-emission SUV that converts hydrogen from a fueling station and oxygen from the air into electricity. Like the Tucson, the Intrado will leave nothing but water vapor behind, while it will run on a new and improved system. Its highly efficient fuel cell powertrain relies on a 36 kW lithium ion battery, and it can be refueled in mere minutes to last more than 370 miles. For comparison, the Tucson only lasts up to 265 miles.

Emphasizing flow and flight

Days before the big reveal, images of the Intrado prototype leaked online, prompting instant comparisons to the Nissan Juke. While its high-riding stance and stylized tail lights do bear a passing resemblance to Nissan's subcompact crossover, the similarities are largely superficial. Other striking details, such as a complete lack of rearview mirrors and a highly sculpted, three-door body, set the Intrado apart from the rest of Hyundai's lineup.

In fact, it's poised to provide the very first example of Hyundai's exclusive design language, Fluidic Sculpture 2.0. According to Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer, the car's lightweight and aerodynamic design is a step toward vehicles that can capture "the efficiency and freedom associated with flying". The Intrado even gets its name from the curved underbelly of a wing, which is only fitting for a car that was inspired by both the form and function of aircrafts.

This new, fluid design concept favors flexibility and organic movement over rigidity and lifeless mechanics. Hyundai's official website illustrates the concept with animated renditions of round, living things, such as tree branches, a swimming whale and a blooming flower. The Intrado will replicate these organic movements by giving drivers more range and agility, thanks in part to brand new materials and manufacturing techniques.

Making repairs easier

Efficiency and agility aren't the only benefits to Hyundai's new design strategy. If Hyundai keeps its promises, the Intrado will also make life easier for manufacturers and mechanics. Its strong carbon-fiber frame is designed to support body panels of any material, opening up design and repair possibilities. Meanwhile, Hyundai has manufactured its own lightweight steel for the body panels, including doors that open to reveal the exposed frame.

Together, these features should speed up repair times and improve crash performance. Even the interior air vents are transparent, continuing a theme of purity and minimalism that makes the car's design especially straightforward. It seems Hyundai isn't content to simply eliminate pollution; with this revolutionary new addition, they're also on track to render common parts, metals and features completely unnecessary.