A hydrogen car hasn't travelled this far on a single tank before.
While the world's media focuses on battery-powered electric cars for the future, companies like BMW, Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai are quietly and patiently working with hydrogen fuel cells. We recently got a chance to take a hydrogen-powered Hyundai Nexo on a lap of the test loop at its facility in the California desert with our foot to the floor. However, the celebrated balloonist (yes, as in hot air balloons), Bertrand Piccard, drove a hell of a lot further in one than we did. He covered 778 km (483.427 miles) on a single tank of hydrogen fuel to claim the hydrogen world distance record for Hyundai.
The journey took place in France. Piccard left the FaHyence hydrogen station in Sarreguemines on Monday 25 November and arrived the next day at the National Air and Space Museum of France in Le Bourget. Piccard has experience in distance records and famously made the first round-the-world trip in a balloon and the first round-the-world trip in a solar plane.
During his 483 mile trip, Piccard picked up various passengers to share parts of the journey, including various French politicians, the Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, and H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco. According to Hyundai, the main subjects of conversation were "sustainable development and mobility."
Hydrogen cell vehicles are still some way from entering the mainstream, although people are becoming more interested in the technology. The biggest problem right now is the infrastructure for fueling vehicles. Hyundai is developing passenger cars, but the people we spoke to at Hyundai talked about how it would likely be commercial vehicles that will pave the way for the fueling infrastructure. The zero-emission vehicles are well suited to commercial applications and don't have the size and weight of batteries to deal with. The reality of battery-electric haulage trucks is that there is a point of diminishing returns with battery size.