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Hyundai N Vision 74 Shows How Future Cars Should Be in More Than One Sense

When I last wrote about the car I would buy if I could, I said it would be a plug-in hybrid with a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery pack for two main reasons. The first is that LFP cells are not prone to thermal runaways and last for a long time. The second is that I am not a fan of fast charging or its infrastructure. Fuel cells could be a great way to ditch the combustion engine in a plug-in hybrid, making it an EV with a clean range extender. Hyundai has presented the best and most desirable example of that with the N Vision 74.
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The electric coupe inspired by the Pony Coupe Concept from 1974 is a much larger machine than the original one. The N Vision 74 is 4.95 meters (194.9 inches) long, 2 m (78.7 in) wide, 1.33 m (52.4 in) tall, and has a wheelbase of 2.91 m (144.6 in), more than enough to accommodate a 62.4-kWh battery pack. It is not the same component that powers the IONIQ 5 or the IONIQ 6.

The IONIQ 5 was introduced with a 72.6 kWh battery pack with 30 2.42-kWh modules. Hyundai promised to make the EV more affordable with a 58.1-kWh battery pack, probably composed of 24 modules instead of 30. The IONIQ 6 has a 77.44 kWh battery, with 32 modules delivering 2.42 kWh each.

The 62.4-kWh battery pack works at 800V, like all E-GMP vehicles. However, it seems to present a different structure than that of the other recent electric Hyundai vehicles based on it. If you divide the 62.4 kWh the N Vision 74 has by 2.42 kWh, that corresponds to 25.8 modules. If we round that up to 26, the capacity raises to 62.92 kWh, showing it does not have 26 modules or they have a different capacity.

If the N Vision 74 has 26 modules and 62.4 kWh, each of them offers 2.4 kWh, less than the E-GMP platform modules provide. If it presents 24 instead of 26 modules, that’s 2.6 kWh. They may be the modules for the Integrated Modular Architecture (IMA), with more capacity than those on the E-GMP. That would be an evolution and would make the N Vision 74 lighter yet still able to offer a reasonable electric-only range.

Hyundai did not inform how far a production vehicle with this battery pack could travel, but let’s suppose it is a bit less than what the IONIQ 5 can achieve: 303 miles (or 488 kilometers) under the EPA cycle. The 58-kWh battery pack has an estimated range of 220 mi (354 km).

More than its striking looks, the N Vision 74 suggests a surprising solution for the ongoing discussion about how to electrify mobility.

Some advocate that battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are the final solution despite charging session times and battery pack prices. Some others think fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are the only ones that can offer convenient refueling times and lower weight for cargo vehicles, even if using hydrogen is less efficient. The answer is probably something that mixes these two alternatives in the right proportion, as the N Vision 74 seems to propose.

A BEV with a fuel cell range extender could be charged slowly, and it would be enough for most people’s daily driving needs. When they needed to travel, they could fill up their hydrogen tanks and go further than just with the energy in their battery packs. The problem is where to buy this hydrogen.

Without demand, no company will invest in distributing the gas. If we have BEVs with fuel cells, the need may slowly increase in a way that will make hydrogen distribution worth the investment. However, there is a lot of debate about how big these battery packs should be.

Ideally, they should be relatively small, enough for 100 miles or a little more than that just to cover daily needs or a short trip to nearby cities. That would make this battery pack not so expensive to replace, preventing the owners from throwing the entire car in the dumpster or blowing it up, as a Model S owner did in Finland.

The smaller battery pack would also allow more EVs to be made with our current supply of raw materials. It would also be lighter, making it more efficient and less dangerous in crashes with other vehicles. If it had performance ambitions such as the N Vision 74, the lower mass would also make it quicker.

The problem with these hypothetical BEVs with a small battery pack and fuel cell range extender is that they would depend on a reasonable hydrogen network to work. Few people have money to buy two cars: one for their daily needs and one for traveling. The N Vision 74 solves that with a larger battery pack, on par with those of smaller EVs. If it offers fast charging capability, it is the perfect vehicle for this transition moment.

Depending on how far you live from a hydrogen station, a fully charged battery pack may help you reach it. Hyundai states that the N Vision 74 would have a total range of “over 600 kilometers” (373 miles) with a top speed of 250 kph (155 mph).

Such a car would suit the current moment until the hydrogen network develops as it should. However, it would also face the same issues current BEVs have: what will happen to it when its battery pack fails? Theoretically, it could keep on running even with a low electric range because of the fuel cells. In other words, people would not have to get rid of the entire car because its most expensive component is dead.

Automakers could also offer smaller battery pack options to replace the current ones, allowing an eventual N Vision 74 to keep running for as long as possible if the rest of the vehicle was still fine. We have no idea how much it would cost to replace the fuel cells, but they are supposed to last 300,000 km (186,411 mi).

Ultimately, the N Vision 74 advocates for a genuinely sustainable electric car. One that could be topped up like current ICE competitors, travel more than 600 km (373 miles), and last more than a vehicle powered solely by a battery pack could. The fact that it looks gorgeous is the cherry on the top of the clean vehicle cake. Isn’t it nice to realize it is not just about good looks?

 
 
 
 
 

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