Cars with hydrogen fuel cells might as well be the future. They can be filled up in minutes and have a huge range. They are essentially electric cars that produce electricity for themselves. But people are worried – won’t a hydrogen car perish in a huge ball of flames in a minor traffic accident? Nope, not at all.
The issue is, of course, hydrogen being so flammable. If it leaks, mixes with air it will go off in flames that are mostly invisible with a naked eye. It is a bit of an issue, because cars contain a lot of sources of a spark – there are electronics, batteries and, of course, cars themselves are made from metal, which can spark. So the concerns do sound legitimate at first, but hydrogen cars can be very tough and safe.
Hyundai Nexo became the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has tested. IIHS crash tests a variety of vehicles, but the biggest emphasis in this testing is put on common cars. Nexo is, of course, not included in the testing, but Hyundai nominated it anyway. And it earned Top Safety Pick+ award, which basically means that it is as safe as modern cars get.
Hyundai Nexo earned good ratings in all six crashworthiness tests, which include the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. It also has active measures to prevent crashes in the first place and advanced lighting technology – Nexo comes with high-beam assist, which automatically switches between high beams and low beams, depending on the presence of other vehicles.
Sounds like great news, but the testing, seemingly, didn’t pay too much attention on the hydrogen tanks. So not good then?
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have extremely safe tanks. They have shut-off valves and pressure monitoring systems. They are also wrapped in multiple layers of composites. And is cars we are talking about – they have to withstand constant bumps over rough road surfaces, winter cold and summer heat, vibrations from closing doors and hatches. They are tough.
And it is not surprising that Hyundai Nexo did well in IIHS tests. Last year it went through similar Euro NCAP testing and came out as ‘Best in Class’ of 2018 in the ‘Large Off-Road’ category. Five stars all the way.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and electric cars are safe. Don’t believe scared people. They are not going to burst into a cloud of fire every time you hit a curb. And they will protect you quite well in case you do get in an accident.