What it’s like to drive a hydrogen car
Behind the wheel of Hyundai’s hydrogen-powered Nexo SUV.
There’s something that seems very normal about pumping hydrogen into the latest release from Korean car maker Hyundai. Connect an industrial metal collar to the receiver nozzle on the Nexo, pull the trigger to lock it in place and gas starts flowing.
The trigger and collar are cool to the touch, a product of -40 degrees Celsius hydrogen pulsing through the handle, most of which is insulated. It’s more high-tech behind the scenes, as the car and bowser conduct a data exchange to establish the safest, most efficient filling pressure.
A few minutes later and the Nexo has reached its 6.33-kilogram maximum hydrogen capacity. For now, you don’t even have to pay – and you won’t be hit up to buy chips and chocolates on the way out.
If this nirvana-like take on zero-emissions motoring has you ready to sign up for a hydrogen-powered car, beware the negatives, such as where to top up. There are currently only two public hydrogen refuelling stations in Australia, one at Toyota’s Hydrogen Centre in Altona in Melbourne’s west and the one I’m using in an industrial area of Canberra, about four kilometres from Parliament House.
It was set up as part of a consortium that includes the ACT government, which is trialling the first 20 Nexos in the country. Toyota has a similar program running in Melbourne, with 20 of its Mirai hydrogen cars being evaluated by “progressive businesses and organisations”.
Toyota says it “believes hydrogen can play a central role in reducing emissions”. ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury says the Nexo trial is about testing hydrogen’s potential. “We are demonstrating … that a zero-emissions future is possible – and it’s practical in Australia.”