The Stunning Hyundai N Vision 74 Goes Fast As Hell By Augmenting Battery Power With Hydrogen

N Vision 74 Topshot 2

There’s been a whole lot of hype around Hyundai’s N Day this year. Not only were rumors of a production electric N car flying like spitballs in a middle school cafeteria, Hyundai released a lead teaser image of something very wedgy and very winged under a cover. While Hyundai has confirmed that an Ioniq 5 N will be arriving next year, fans will likely be disappointed to know that lips are sealed regarding details. However, Hyundai does have a pair of new prototypes to show off, and the wedge-shaped thing under the cover goes ridiculously, unbelievably hard.

David’s already covered the prototype with more near-term importance, so I’m here to talk about the really exciting one – the Hyundai N Vision 74. See, back in the ‘70s, Giorgetto Giugiaro whipped up a nifty coupe version of the Hyundai Pony that never made production. Americans might not be familiar with the Hyundai Pony unless they watched the Red Green Show, but here in Canada we did more than just duct tape old Hyundais together – we actually drove them. While the Pony coupe would be vaguely familiar to any Canadian who lived through the ‘80s or ‘90s, the N Vision 74 takes Giugiaro’s vision and sends it to compete in this year’s overfender nationals.

Hyundai N Vision 74
Photo credit: Hyundai

This thing looks gnarly, from hectic box flares to turbofans to a very angry set of pixel daytime running lights. It’s a hard-edged lit-up anti-hero car for whatever cyberpunk dystopia eventually caves in our front doors with size 14 boots. Its proportions are absolutely enormous – 16 inches longer than a Bugatti Chiron, three-quarters of an inch wider than a Ferrari Testarossa, half an inch lower than a Lexus LC 500. The wheelbase is a whopping 2,905 mm long, longer than that on a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. The dimensions on this thing are absolutely unreal. More importantly, the N Vision 74 isn’t just a pretty face – it may just save trackday driving through the use of one seriously innovative powertrain. The N Vision 74 is a hybrid, but it doesn’t burn much other than rubber.

For starters, there’s a 60.4 kWh battery pack driving the rear wheels through two electric motors. Not only does this promise a delicious rear-wheel-drive handling balance, it also allows for some clever torque vectoring. On the practicality front, range is said to be more than 600 km (373 miles) on the WLTP cycle, right up there with some of the better long-range EVs on sale. Pleasant, kind, sensible stuff so far.

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Photo credit: Hyundai

Now we get to the hybrid part of the equation. Nestled deep in the N Vision 74 is a hydrogen fuel cell with a nice, lightweight hydrogen tank capable of storing 4.2 kg of the stuff. The fuel cell stack can generate a decent 85 kW of juice, great as a range extender for topping off the battery while on the go. However, that hydrogen fuel cell’s role isn’t just as a range extender. It’s also there to ram electricity to the motors as a sort of overboost function, bludgeoning the rear tires to a pulp in tandem with the battery pack whenever conditions allow. Not only is the end result a face-melting 670 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque, this injection of rage means the N Vision 74 can actually hold up to track driving, something most street-legal EVs don’t do a brilliant job at.

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While some gasoline-powered vehicles hate track work, electric cars really hate track work. All those wide-open “throttle” events put a serious dent into range while properly taxing battery cooling systems. Why? Because batteries have thermal operating limits, and current generates resistive heat as it passes through a conductor. (You may have heard of I^2*R losses – heat goes up with the square or current). The harder you pound on the pedal in an electric car, the more heat is generated by the battery, and the less happy the battery gets.

Large 50474 Hyundaimotorsnbrandunveilstworollinglabconceptssignalinghigh Performancevisionforelectrificationera
Photo credit: Hyundai

The hydrogen fuel cell in the N Vision 74 is a method of getting around this. In addition to range extension and providing a boost of peak power, the fuel cell carries some burden of sending electric current to the motors in order to give the battery pack a chance to breathe. After all, reducing pack discharge rate is a great way of extending range and promoting battery cooling. Of course, the caveat is that hydrogen filling stations aren’t exactly plentiful, but that could change in the coming decades.

Hyundai N Vision 74
Photo credit: Hyundai

Truthfully, there’s a lot to love about the N Vision 74. I like the fact that it’s rear-wheel-drive and looks absolutely mental, I like that it uses hydrogen as a boost rather than as a sole propulsion method, and I like how it gives hope about the future of long track stints. I absolutely love track driving, and the electric age worries me a touch in terms of open lapping. We may soon be in a weird spot where we can’t really roll up to the track in our new daily drivers, go lapping for the afternoon, have the 20 to 30 minute sessions we’re used to, and simply drive home. Hydrogen might be one form of light at the end of the tunnel.

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66 Responses

    1. Here’s the problem with them building something that amazing…

      … to do it TRULY RIGHT wouldn’t be cheap. And I mean *truly right*. Not something that goes into limp mode due to batteries getting outside their ideal temperature window. Really smart stability control that keeps it in check, but without getting in your way. A hydrogen tank that will not go boom, and high-end materials to ensure that tank can exist without meaningfully compromising cargo or interior space. Great dynamics (possible for certain with the current head of N). A reasonable place to be inside.

      Here’s the problem with that — you’re definitely at $100K+ for a Hyundai. Easily could be $150K+. With hydrogen infrastructure nearly non-existent in the United States outside of a few sparse pockets.

      It would have to DOMINATE every major “Performance Car of the Year Award” to have a chance at that price point. Then the dealers would have to not be terrible to customers (likely all of which are conquest sales) now willing to drop that kind of money.

      Can’t hit that target to justify the actual price? Now you’re watering it down. Now you’re risking another Kia Stinger which will die largely in obscurity and have its sales peter out after 18 months.

      1. When you have no historic design cues everything is possible. I have to admit that their design elements are very ground breaking and allow for good product distinction while keeping family resemblance. But this new square light element is very strong but reminds me of eyes of the floating robot from The Blackhole.

        1. This and the Ioniq 5 actually ARE built out of historic design cues. This, in particular, used the Hyundai Pony Coupe concept as a jumping off point – hence “74” written everywhere – and the Ioniq 5 started with the Pony that you could actually buy.

  1. You had me at box flares. This pulls at my heart strings and speaks to my soul. It’s so ridiculous and over the top and will will never be produced as-is but goddamn Hyundai has been KILLING IT. I really want an Ioniq 5 to be my next car but this thing, THIS THING… holy crap. This thing lives in the driveway of my dreams.

    1. This is basically my entire response. My neighbor has an Ioniq 5 in Digital Teal and it’s a nice looking car. If they release anything like this though I’m going to have to do my best to convince my better half that box flared goodness is just as practical as an Ioniq 5.

  2. This is exactly why we need to invest in renewable electricity generation, coupled with nickel-iron storage batteries at national grid scale. This system produces both hydrogen and baseload capabilities for intermittent renewable sources like solar, wind, or tidal power.

    There is in fact a company scaling this up commercially:

    https://protonventures.com/press-release/the-battolyser-a-battery-that-also-produces-hydrogen-challenges-conventional-hydrogen-production-technology/

    If this were done on a continental scale, we would have design alternatives to lithium ion battery packs, for when power to weight performance ratios are a design priority.

    1. Isn’t nickel also heavily supply constrained? Granted, I only have a miniscule pop-sci understanding of this, but I’m excited for sodium battery tech. They’ve already existed for stationary applications, and there are plenty of basements or whatever that wouldn’t be fussed about relatively low density. If CATL and others can make this work in mobile applications, so much the better. All that said, having multiple viable solutions to societal energy storage needs is only a good thing.

      1. It’s not as bad as cobalt, but there are a couple of issues currently with supply/demand mismatch.

        First, demand went up like 60% last year, due to both batteries and stainless steel production going up. Batteries only use around 9% of annual production though. The biggest use is primarily stainless and steel production. Growth in stainless production is estimated to be about 5% per annum into the future, for at least a couple decades. These factors have led to the price per ton of nickel going from about $25K to almost $60K last year. Ouch.

        Second, one of the major suppliers is Russia. So there are going to be structural problems with active mines that are/aren’t under import prohibitions. (As an aside, this would be a good time to invest in cobalt, copper, and nickel mining operations. Especially in an inflationary market.)

        The last consideration is long term though. We really haven’t been that serious about Class 1 nickel until recently. Because of the relatively steep increase in the demand curve over the last few years, alternative resources like deep ocean mining, liquid phase sulfide sources and serious efforts at battery recycling, haven’t been developed yet, and are only now coming to the fore.

        The TD;DR answer is that we aren’t likely to be supply constrained in the long term. Here’s the Nickel Institute’s assessment:

        https://nickelinstitute.org/en/blog/2020/january/reserves-resources-and-recycling-is-there-enough-nickel/

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  4. “The fuel cell stack can generate a decent 85 kW of juice, great as a range extender for topping off the battery while on the go.”

    That, for the record is 113 HP. That’s not much better than the 104HP engine out of the Ioniq.

  5. Can we please stop calling everything nice “stunning”? I am not stunned. I am impressed, though.

    Not a fan of the H2 fuel cell part, because H2 fuel cells aren’t going to be part of any affordable car, ever. It’s too difficult to deal with the pressures, the temperature swings, and H2’s ability to leak out of even the best-designed fuel systems. (10% lost to leakage per month is an EPA goal, typical real-life loss is more!) And the beryllium-copper tools used to work on H2 systems aren’t cheap. No matter how you scale it, H2 will always be very expensive as a fuel. It’s a government subsidy grift.

  6. I really like that they put these crazy and completely over the top front and rear spoilers on it, and the elongated hood hiding the top of the front lights are also a japanese bōsōzoku style inspired design. So it would be (more) fun with a really tall and steep tail pipe, just spraying water, since it’s (partly) hydrogen driven!

    And personally I have been secretly praying for flat design wheel covers (or rims) to come back in style since 1992.

  7. This looks amazing! All the best parts of the existing Ionic 5 with BMW M1, first gen VW Scirroco, DeTomaso Pantera and R5 Turbo added to the mix! The 3/4 angle view from the front is just sinister enough. Just a fantastic design!

  8. This screams so much 80s badassery Don Johnson just pulled in my driveway in a white Testerossa blaring Van Helen. Please make this! Even if full electric I might consider it just to have it in my garage taking up space!

  9. This is pretty awesome and recalls some of the more attractive Porsches from down the years in an excellent retro-future way. Aesthetically I’d prefer it without the chin spoiler, but otherwise no notes.

  10. This isn’t a retro design, it is just a good design from a language that happened to be common in the 70’s/80’s.
    I hope that this becomes the new normal – good design is a design that works, no matter the era it came from. Like clothes. No one is using the freaky stuff they show on fashion shows, and yet, why do ALL our cars need to look like pissed off, baroque origami?
    I welcome this sort of look not because nostalgia, but because it works on its own.

  11. This is _exactly_ how you use a fuel cell. They need a little time to ramp up/down, so if you can use a battery to cover instantaneous needs and regen braking, they can deliver range and bulk power.
    Once the beancounters realize that you can do this, it opens the door to using Solid Oxide Fuel Cells, which can run on easier-to-store fuels like ammonia, methane or methanol.

  12. If a movie version of Niel Stephenson’s “Snow Crash” was ever filmed, this car would be PERFECT for the introduction where Hiro Protaganist uses an electric sports car to deliver pizzas working for Cosa Nostra Pizza. If your pizza arrives late, you get to kill the driver.

  13. As dead-sexy as the design of this vehicle is, I would take any ICE vehicle over it any day of the week (Porsche synthetic fuels could be equally green). But if we have to move to an ICE-free future, this at least makes it less painful.

    1. Actually, going by timelines, the Hyundai Pony Coupe concept that they started with was 1974, so it predates the DeLorean. But neither of them are knockoffs because the originals were both Giugiaro designs.

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