Hyundai Envision Eco-Friendly Semi-Trucks With HDC-6 Neptune Concept
Electric cars are starting to roll out in the masses as a way to curb emissions and save fuel. While replacing gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles with electric cars will certainly help keep the environment in check, there's another set of vehicles that travel more miles than regular automobiles and are constantly on the road: semi-trucks. While some companies are looking into electric 18-wheelers, Hyundai's envisioned a large cargo vehicle that's powered by a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain.
New Neptune Concept Envisions A Clean Semi
At the North American Commercial Vehicle Show, Hyundai unveiled the HDC-6 Neptune Concept Class 8 heavy-duty semi-truck with a clean energy refrigerated concept trailer from Hyundai Translead. While Hyundai has semi-trailers on U.S. roads, the South Korean automaker doesn't sell a semi-tractor in the country, which would make the Neptune the first. The large transport vehicle would also be a part of the brand's FCEV 2020 vision.
The most striking thing about the Neptune concept is its radical design. The exterior look of the semi-truck is meant to evoke streamliner railway trains from the ‘30s and ‘50s. According to Hyundai, the concept is an example of "Art Deco industrial design." Art aside, the Neptune is the coolest semi-truck we've seen. The unique design is due in part to the concept's hydrogen powertrain.
"The fuel cell powertrain gave us the opportunity to refine the classical typology and architecture of the truck," said Chief Design Officer of Hyundai Motor Group, Luc Donckerwolke.
While the semi-tractor itself looks cool, the HT Nitro ThermoTech concept trailer is just as out there. While the truck is meant to run as efficiently as possible, the trailer is all about keeping cargo nice and cool, while being efficient. More specifically, it's meant to be more efficient than a conventional refrigerated trailer. Thanks to enhanced thermal efficiency, the temperature on the inside of the trailer can be controlled more precisely. It also means that the interior refrigerated space isn't affected by the outside temperature.
The ability to keep cargo as cool as possible comes down to walls that are constructed from foam and fiber-reinforced polymer skins. Unlike a lot of other semi-trucks, the trailer continues to work when the truck is off. This gives it an advantage for companies that complete a lot of nighttime deliveries in urban locals.
Hyundai's Testing The Semi-Truck Market
Hyundai's decision to unveil the Neptune Concept at a show in the U.S. is due to its thought process of entering the semi-truck scene in the country. The automaker already has a strong semi-truck presence outside of America. But, the first 1,600 fuel-cell semi-trucks will go to Switzerland through 2023, though they'll probably have a much more traditional design.
Hyundai isn't the only automaker looking into hydrogen-powered semi-trucks. Nikola Motor Company is developing an 18-wheeler with a hydrogen powertrain for the European market. Toyota, which is a strong proponent of hydrogen vehicles, has also come out with a hydrogen fuel cell truck.
When it comes to regular cars, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Toyota, and Honda have fuel-cell hydrogen vehicles.
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