Hyundai N performance EV brand teases hydrogen fuel cell tech

Hyundai’s N performance division is preparing to launch its first battery electric cars, but it’s considering performance fuel cell vehicles as well.

Hyundai released a short video Friday showing off the development process for its N vehicles and teasing the first production electric N model, the Ioniq 5 N. The video briefly shows a camouflaged Ioniq 5 N, which is sportier version of the Ioniq 5 hatchback. 

More time is devoted to the two “rolling lab” concept cars Hyundai unveiled in July—the battery electric RN22e and hydrogen fuel cell N Vision 74. Hyundai previously said both would serve as research platforms for future performance vehicles, but this is the first time we’ve seen either outside an auto show.

Hyundai RN22e Concept

Hyundai RN22e Concept

 

The RN22e appears to be based on the Ioniq 6 sedan scheduled to reach the U.S. as a 2024 model, which is based on the same E-GMP platform as the Ioniq 5. The same 77.4-kwh battery pack used in the Ioniq 6 feeds a dual-motor all-wheel drive powertrain rated at 576 hp and enabling a claimed 155-mph top speed.

The N Vision 74 pays homage to the 1974 Hyundai Pony Coupe concept, a one-off version of the Hyundai Pony, which was the first production car developed in-house by Hyundai and the styling inspiration for the Ioniq 5. The N Vision 74 combines its retro styling with a fuel cell powertrain first seen in the N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo, which was unveiled in 2015 to mark launch of the the N sub-brand.

Hyundai said development of the fuel cell powertrain has continued over the ensuing seven years. In the N Vision 74, it’s rated at 500 kw (670 hp) and the hydrogen tanks can be replenished in just five minutes, according to Hyundai. 

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Battery electric N models will soon appear in showrooms starting with the Ioniq 5 N, but Hyundai hasn’t confirmed plans for hydrogen performance cars. Like other automakers, Hyundai’s fuel cell efforts seem to be shifting away from cars toward other use cases.

Hyundai in 2019 was on track to become the world’s top seller of hydrogen powered cars. However, it reportedly has delayed the next generation of its Nexo crossover

, as other automakers shift fuel cell efforts to trucking and industrial projects. California fuel cell drivers were affected by a series of outages and mishaps in 2020 and 2021; that may have influenced the impressions of early adopters.

Hyundai meanwhile is testing a 500-mile hydrogen fuel cell semi in California, and in late 2020 it launched an HTWO fuel cell brand aimed at expanding the tech to other vehicles, ships, and trains.