There’s just something about cars. A car means autonomy, freedom and independence. But with all the multifaceted models, the variety of features, the different preferences of the equipment, a car and its appearance also seem to be a way of expressing one’s individuality, and it isn’t uncommon for it to be a symbol of a person’s self image.

HYDRO POWER –
WITH HYDROGEN INTO THE FUTURE

Category: Mobility     Text: Lea Woitack
There’s just something about cars. A car means autonomy, freedom and independence. But with all the multifaceted models, the variety of features, the different preferences of the equipment, a car and its appearance also seem to be a way of expressing one’s individuality, and it isn’t uncommon for it to be a symbol of a person’s self image.
But the bottom line is driving a car is one of the biggest challenges in terms of climate protection. The exhaust fumes, the consumption of resources, not to mention the noise, pollution and also the stress created by the moving masses. My personal record for finding a parking spot is around 45 minutes, the city is basically bursting at the seams. Not exactly what you need after a long day at work.
For a while I replaced my car with public transport as a practical test. I had read a book in which the extent of the burden of cars was described and so I wanted to test out some alternatives to driving. I held out for three months of tiring, longer commutes and unplanned train cancellations. In the end it was a big challenge – flexibility and comfort are really something else.

Photos: Hyundai
FREE LANES FOR GREEN CARS
So one thing is clear: Something has to change. But what? If it’s a complicated thing (and in this case it is), you have to think outside the box and slowly approach a solution. Trial and error, learning by doing or simply trying things out is the tried and true heuristic method.
Said and done. When Green Window asked me if I wanted to test out the new SUV ‘Nexo’ from Hyundai, I immediately said yes. I don’t know much about technology, so in this case I had to rely on Marco’s expertise. He is an engineer and had no problem explaining the unique and special feature of the vehicle to me. It’s a hydrogen car, which means that instead of running on petrol, a fossil fuel, it runs on hydrogen. Hydrogen is produced when you split water into its components hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis (with electricity). Turned around, when hydrogen and oxygen are brought together again, energy and water is produced. Sounds exciting. I am particularly interested in what this looks like in action.
Obviously, the car is incredibly quiet. In the hustle and bustle of the big city, it would be so calming not to have to hear all the engine noises anymore. Not quite so obvious, but all the more surprising is the thing with the exhaust. Only water vapour comes out of the exhaust, nothing else. Marco says that theoretically, you could even drink the condensate dripping from the exhaust. It’s really just water. I not only find that really fascinating, I think it’s a great alternative to petrol; a step in the right direction. And now imagine the following. Surely you’ve seen the signs in the city “30 zone because of air pollution” or “Slow because of noise”. Neither would even apply to the Nexo. This new SUV even filters pollutants out of the ambient air. Could we make an exception for environmentally friendly cars like this?
EVERY JOURNEY BEGINS WITH A FIRST STEP
As always, nothing can be black or white, and it’s no different here. The production of hydrogen requires electricity, preferably from renewable sources. We need new fuel pumps and a whole network of them and the purchase price of the car alone suggests that this is not really a patent solution.
The start is always the most difficult. The challenges are diverse and the demands high. We spent a whole day in the Nexo and as we drove along country roads and through the city we had to admit one thing: the feel good factor is definitely there. Car enthusiasts will find lots of details and extras on this car to talk shop about. Even I, with my “as long as it’s practical” mindset, can’t deny the attraction of the car. Especially since the core argument, namely environmental friendliness, is right at the top of the list here. The Nexo is the temporary highlight of Hyundai’s 20 year pioneering hydrogen work and a perfect zero emission drive for every day. I’m curious as to when I’ll meet the Nexo again, it certainly has the potential to become an ‘Everybody’s Darling.’

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