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Hyundai N working on electric and hydrogen vehicles

Hyundai will launch an N-tuned electric vehicle and is developing a prototype that mates a battery with a fuel-cell range extender.

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William Stopford
William Stopford

Hyundai’s N performance division will introduce electric vehicles, though the skunkworks also has something a bit different up its sleeve.

Executives have confirmed an all-electric N is coming but provided no detail on what it would look like or when it would be launched.

The eventual electric N model will use Hyundai’s new E-GMP platform, which underpins the imminent Ioniq 5.

There’s certainly performance potential in E-GMP, with the range-topping Kia EV6 GT producing 430kW of power and 740Nm of torque from its dual-motor electric powertrain.

0-100km/h is dispatched in 3.5 seconds, while electric range for the EV6 GT is expected to be more than 405km on the stricter WLTP standard.

Executives poured cold water on the likes of a large N-fettled SUV, though confirmed they’re discussing a Tucson N and are gauging public reaction to the Kona N before beginning development.

For any models larger than that, Hyundai said it’ll only look at all-electric powertrains.

Executives said N vehicles can employ any number of different drivetrains, so long as they follow three principles: they must be a “corner rascal”, an “everyday sports car”, and have track capability.

N vehicles are also intended to be affordable, which rules out a production version of the RM20e “test bed” vehicle.

“We are not sure right now if this is the right model to come up with in the future because our credo is to make our products and services affordable and assessable for a wide range of enthusiasts,” said global marketing chief Thomas Schemera.

“Coming with a super sports car in that price range… We haven’t made any decision yet. Capability-wise, we are capable of doing that. RM20e is a very good example for that.”

The RM20e – RM being short for Racing Midship – features four mid-mounted electric motors, with a total system output of 596kW of power and 960Nm of torque.

Hyundai’s head of R&D, Albert Biermann, confirmed the N division is working on another “rolling lab project”, albeit one that combines a high-power battery with a hydrogen fuel-cell.

The fuel cell serves as a range extender.

Mr Biermann stopped short, however, of confirming it for production.

“We have not decided if we want to sell this one day or not,” said Mr Biermann, indicating it’s being developed more as a showcase for the potential of hydrogen power.

“Our first prototypes, they’re based on an existing platform but when we might decide in the future to go with a fuel cell-powered N vehicle, it might probably need some more changes to an existing platform.”

Hyundai teased the possibility of a hydrogen-powered sports car in 2015 with the N 2025 Vision Gran Turismo concept.

It features a total output of 650kW, with dual fuel cell stacks providing 500kW and a supercapacitor system using energy obtained from regenerative braking to produce 150kW. A motor is located at each wheel.

A carbon fibre-reinforced plastic structure keeps weight at just 972kg.

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William Stopford
William Stopford

William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel (remember that?), briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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