Hyundai says it hasn't given up on hydrogen fuel cells as it unveils new electric car platform

The Hyundai-Kia Group’s dedicated EV platform might be predictable, but 23 new electric models in five years isn't to be sniffed at

Hyundai-Kia Group's new E-GMP electric car (EV) platform - unveiled 01/12/20
The E-GMP platform follows current practice, with low-mounted battery cells for optimum weight distribution and passenger space

Hyundai Kia, the world’s third largest car maker, has unveiled its new dedicated battery-electric chassis/platform, which will underpin 23 new electric vehicles (EVs) and up to one million cars a year by 2025.

The new chassis, called E-GMP, will be shared across the Kia, Hyundai and more upmarket Genesis badges and is designed for use under larger cars, from family-sized C-segment hatchbacks to larger saloons and SUVs up to five metres long.

Smaller cars such as superminis and sub-B city cars will continue to use multi-use structures which will also accept combustion engine technology. It’s a tacit acknowledgement of the problems of developing economical small cars with battery electric technology.

The new generation of electric vehicles will be produced in Korea but the company is considering regional production if demand takes off.

The first new E-GMP model will be the Hyundai Ioniq 5, which has been seen testing and is scheduled for launch next spring.  The company says it will have a range of 310 miles and a top speed of about 161mph without the use of a two-speed transmission as used in the Porsche Taycan.

The E-GMP platform follows industry practice in having its pouch-type lithium-ion battery cells in the floor and a long wheelbase of up to three metres. The motor and control electronics sit under the bonnet, with drive to the rear wheels. There will be a four-wheel drive option for the more powerful versions, which will produce up to 600bhp

Battery cells will be bought in, although Hyundai says that it is researching new cell materials and is already ahead of the pack in using large cells. It is also working on solid-state battery technology and says the E-GMP will be fitted with this kind of cells when they become available in a few years.

The company claims it has a two to three per cent efficiency improvement from its E-GMP platform thanks to its 800-volt operating system and silicon-carbide current inverter, which is similar to the new Toyota Mirai II fuel-cell car.

As far as the Group’s fuel-cell research is concerned, it is still considering whether to move its fuel cell (FCEV) cars on to the new EV platform, though it’s difficult to see where the bulky hydrogen tanks could be accommodated. But research into the technology will continue.

“Nothing has changed,” says Albert Biermann, head of research and development. “We will keep developing our hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, that is not affected by the E-GMP platform.”

The company also claims that the new structure will allow it to develop different forms of bodywork and exciting designs, though on an echoing Zoom presentation from South Korea it wasn’t entirely clear what form these would take, with the design random word generator in full flow.  So we can look forward to “human-centred innovative interior concepts and a progressive electrification experience”, according to one presenter, whatever that means…

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