Hyundai previews hydrogen-powered SUV

* Latest Intrado SUV concept shown * Hyundai reaffirms commitment to hydrogen power * Reveals design direction for future models...

Hyundai previews hydrogen-powered SUV

Hyundai has unveiled it's striking Intrado SUV concept at the Geneva motor show.

First previewed in late 2013, the latest concept showcases the design direction of future models, the first of which is the next generation of its i20 due in 2015, plus the refreshed ix35 small SUV. General manager of design Raphael Bretcher hinted strongly that front end elements, including the bold, hexagonal front grille will feature on future models.

The Intrado concept is built around a hydrogen drivetrain, expected to appear in European ix35 models during 2015. A lack of UK infrastructure for hydrogen refuelling makes predictions about UK availability difficult, although Gunther Roos, Hyundai's design and engineering manager, is convinced that it is a better solution than hybrid technologies. This is due to a relative lack of complexity, compliance with emissions targets and ‘no changes’ to traditional driver behaviours, with refuelling and range on a par with traditionally fuelled cars.

A composite construction technology that underpins the new model was also shown; senior studio engineer Sven Wittke says that the design uses specially developed carbonfibre technology to create a strong, rigid and lightweight cage from which the rest of the car is then built from.

A large support beam runs through the middle of the cabin, separating the left- and right-hand seats. The tubes supporting the roof structure and cabin are built off the frame creating a wide, open cabin space.

Wittke insists the RTM (resin-transfer moulding) frame technology – using carbonfibre tubes, cured and bonded together to form a frame – is scaleable for efficient and economical production, as it only uses the carbonfibre elements where its strength and light weight offer significant advantages.

The remaining body panels can be made of less expensive materials to avoid the prohibitive cost asssocated with volume car manufacture using carbonfibre components.