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Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Are Safer Than You Think

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Apparently fuel-cell vehicles are not as unsafe as they sound.

Hydrogen gas is remarkably flammable, and when mixed with atmospheric oxygen it becomes dangerously explosive. The release of hydrogen into the atmosphere generates an explosive cloud. The size of the explosion depends on the degree of confinement. Therefore, there's a reason for people's concern over having a tank of compressed flammable gas sitting behind them and their passengers in a moving vehicle.

The good news is that the Hyundai Nexo fuel-cell SUV just earned itself the highest rating possible from the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). A Top Safety Pick+ award is no small thing for any car, and this should help put minds at rest over the adoption of the new technology.

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As the Hyundai Nexo is only sold in California, it wasn't due a routine test schedule with the IIHS. Hyundai nominated the Nexo for testing itself, and in the process gave the IIHS an early chance to evaluate a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. The test methodology includes examining crash prevention technology and headlights. As a result of an adjustment in the Nexo's headlines for June 2019 models and it's ability to avoid collisions at both 12 mph and 25 mph, the Nexo scored highly. However, due to the fuel-cell technology, it's the physical testing that interests us most.

According to the IIHS, "To qualify for a 2019 Top Safety Pick+ award, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests."

The good news is that in the crash tests the Hyundai Nexo didn't explode, not even once. We're assuming Hyundai already knew that wasn't going to happen. It means the Nexo goes into the Hyundai club for a Top Safety Pick+ award along with the Kona, Tucson, Santa Fe, Elantra, and Sonata. Hyundai's safety game is strong across the board with the Elantra GT, Ioniq, Accent, Veloster, and Santa Fe XL all getting the standard Top Safety Pick award.