The much-anticipated and debated Genesis halo car is expected to be released with the hydrogen and BEV powerplant, along with the N version of the popular electric crossover from IONIQ.
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The notion of Genesis introducing a halo car, to boost its brand image in its efforts to be the top luxury automaker that can go toe to toe with the best in the world is nothing new. Not limited to the mass production brands such as Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Audi, but reaching even further upwards to compete with the top echelon premium carmakers. The company’s intention couldn’t have been more clearly demonstrated, with the showcasing of the breathtaking Essentia concept introduced in 2019. However, the project has lost its momentum somewhat since then, due to a change in the company’s direction to curtail the production of the internal combustion engine vehicles in light of the changing automotive ecosystem, where governments around the world would impose bans on I-C-E cars in not distant future.
However, the Hyundai group as a whole has adapted well to the circumstances, and are poised to become a world leader in electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell cars, with the introduction of Hyundai Nexo Hydrogen Fuel cell EV, advanced dedicated electric cars such as IONIQ 5 and Kia EV6, as well as sophisticated next-generation electrified vehicles such as Genesis Electrified G80, which also uses 800V charging architecture like the dedicated EV’s.
So, it’s only natural that Hyundai and Genesis are attempting to bolster its image as a leader in electric cars, with the release of a halo car that would showcase everything that Hyundai has in its arsenal in terms of its world-renowned 800V EV and hydrogen fuel cell technology, and design prowess that the Korean company is known for with the lineup of highly acclaimed and talented designers such as Luc Donckerwolke, Peter Schreyer and Sang-yup Lee that have served as key designers for the likes of Bentley and Lamborghini.
Back in 2019, the Hyundai motor group decided to invest 90 million dollars in Rimac, an electric supercar company that drew attention from around the world with its prototypes with crazy horsepower and torque figures in the thousands.
Despite the fact that a small Croatian company has yet to sell a single production car, major automakers have come knocking. Porsche invested an unspecified 10 percent stake, Pinin-farina is sharing the C_Two's platform for its own EV, Jaguar tapped it for the E-type Zero conversion, and Aston Martin is relying on Rimac to provide the kinetic-energy recovery system for the Valkyrie. All of these sounds exciting but seem distant from what most people would be able to afford.
What sets the new partnership with the Korean auto giant apart is that its new projects will include reality-grounded cars as well. Hyundai is known to be pragmatic when it comes to investments and when it plunks down 90-million dollars, you know that it’s going to get something out of it.
Rimac went to work right away, and within 1 year from the partnership, RM20e was born. Started in 2012, the RM series of project cars is what Hyundai calls the “Rolling Lab” concept of vehicles, where Hyundai’s high-performance technology is developed and tested for commercial and race applications. This program bore such prolific sports cars as Veloster N, Elantra N, TCR race cars, and E-TCR electric race cars. The latest in series, RM20e is powered by an 800V motor, which generates a peak power of 596 kW or 810 horsepower, as well as peak torque of 960Nm or 708-pound-feet capable of achieving 0-100km/h in less than 3 seconds, and to 200km/h in less than 10 seconds.
This behemoth was created to serve as a basis for 2 high-performance electric vehicles.
The first one would be a high-performance hatchback bearing the N moniker. And we have already seen a sample of this in the form of the Kia EV6 GT. Apparently, out of 90-million dollars investment, 18-million of it was from Kia, and they rightfully claimed the title of the first-ever high-performance EV from a Korean brand. The EV6 GT is a 577-hp, 546-pound-feet of torque dual-motor beast capable of running 0-100km/h or 62-mph in just 3.5-seconds.
Hyundai’s version of this crossover is expected to be even faster and more hardcore. The N version of IONIQ 5 will come with more power, approaching 600-hp, and the usual accouterment of trick features exclusive to N cars to turn your ordinary family crossover SUV into a bonafide supercar.
The second vehicle to come out of the partnership with Rimac will manifest in a hydrogen fuel cell electric car. And this time, it will be a true supercar. The hydrogen-powered supercar will be a one-off car that’s not based on any other car, and represents Korean maker’s first true halo car that will showcase its prowess in electric vehicle technology.
800-hp Forze IX
Although Hyundai has not made any official announcement about the halo car, we know the car is coming soon. And here are the reasons why. First, Albert Biermann, the head of the vehicle development of the Hyundai motor group has made a reference to a hydrogen fuel cell prototype that can be combined with the E-GMP platform, and the power electric system to create the next race car while presenting the new Elantra N. Also, a test mule of such a vehicle has been spotted in Korea earlier this year, serving as clear evidence of the impending arrival.
The conspicuous-looking test vehicle dons a stretched and widened Kia Stinger GT body with heavy camouflage, but was witness to be electric in nature. What could be easily dismissed as a common electric vehicle, the dead giveaway was the air intake located in the midsection of the vehicle that points to only one possibility of being a Hydrogen fuel cell car.
Unlike common battery-powered EV’s, hydrogen fuel cell vehicle requires air for the hydrogen-electric generator as seen in the cars like Hyundai’s Nexo Hydrogen Fuel Cell EV. FYI, this type of hydrogen-electric generator is being supplied to the E-TCR race, which Hyundai is also fielding its electric racing car, to supply electricity to all participating teams.
“We are testing a lot now. We have a few prototypes on the road. We want to demonstrate the range of fuel cell applications... Our first prototypes are based on an existing platform but when we might decide to go with the fuel cell [performance car] it might need some more changes to an existing platform. It’s not an as easy a job, it needs some modifications."
Going back to the subject of the test mule, the vehicle spotted was one of the five test prototypes that Albert Biermann has referred to in his statement regarding the future hydrogen-powered race car.
Also, in the media roundtable in April 2021, he said “We are testing a lot now. We have a few prototypes on the road. We want to demonstrate the range of fuel cell applications," and that He also added, "Our first prototypes are based on an existing platform but when we might decide to go with the fuel cell [performance car] it might need some more changes to an existing platform. It’s not an as easy a job, it needs some modifications."
The platform he is referring to is E-GMP or Electric Global Modula Platform, the latest state-of-the-art 800V EV platform that is to underpin most of the dedicated electric vehicles to come from the Korean maker including Ioniq, Kia, and Genesis. The modification to the platform that Mr. Biermann refers to includes incorporating the hydrogen-electric generator into the BEV platform. The space constraints posed by the need to accommodate battery packs along with the hydrogen-electric generator could pose some engineering challenges, as cars such as Nexo do not have battery packs, but rather powers the motor directly.
You can get the preview of how Hyundai engineers would tackle this complex issue in the graphic presentation that depicts future hydrogen race cars. Where it appears that the hydrogen tank is located on top of the power electric system in the rear with the electric generator being in front for the weight balance, exactly how Biermann has described in his discussion. You can watch the full discussion in the video presentation that will follow.
Genesis GT90 (Essentia)
You can also watch how this masterpiece of engineering is put to use in real life by following the actions of the Forze racing. Hyundai has recently partnered with Forze Hydrogen Racing – a group of students that designs, builds, and competes with hydrogen-electric race cars for the promotion of fuel cell mobility.
Its latest Forze 9 race car, once completed, the 1,500-kilogram or 3,307-pound race car is expected to be the world's fastest fuel cell electric race car, with a top speed of 186 miles per hour or 300 kilometers per hour, and hit 0-60 mph in less than 3 seconds. The two fuel cell systems of the car will have a maximum power of 805-hp or 600 kilowatts, sent to all four wheels.
Sounds similar to the RM20e specs? Well, that’s probably because the same powerplant from that project car would also be going into the proposed halo car, and that Forze 9 is simply being served as another test mule before the commercialization.
This of course would be another challenge for Biermann’s team as it’s known that E-GMP can only accommodate a maximum of 600-hp as originally designed.
Due to these hurdles, we cannot say at this moment when the new halo car from Genesis would make the introduction, but we expect it to be soon. Genesis is about to venture into the European market, where all things fast and luxurious originated, and what could create more buzz than a first-ever production hydrogen supercar.
With the breathtaking performance based on the RM20e and the design based on the Essentia, it would be a truly remarkable car that would rewrite automotive history, especially coming from Korean manufacture with a rather short history.
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