Genesis Hints at Future with Hydrogen-Hybrid GV80 SUV

Is this powertrain part of its future?

by on Apr.12, 2017

The Genesis GV80 Concept made its Tuesday debut at the NY Auto Show.

The challenge for a new automotive brand is to try to decide what you stand for and then get that message out to the public. In the case of Genesis, the new luxury marque does have the benefit of having a deep-pocket parent with plenty of design and engineering talent.

And that all comes together in the form of the GV80 Concept vehicle which made its debut at the New York International Auto Show Wednesday afternoon. While it’s being billed as nothing more than a show car, officials with the luxury arm of Hyundai Motor Co. said key design elements – as well as some of the GV80’s technology – will make it into production.

What a Conceptt!

The marque’s first crossover-utility vehicle, liberally borrowing from the concept, will roll into Genesis showrooms “in about two years,” said brand boss Manfred Fitzgerald. And the GV80’s distinctive, quad-slit headlamps “will become a signature for the Genesis brand,” carrying over to all future models.

(Live from New York…it’s the New York Auto Show. Click Here for complete coverage.)

Originally used as the name of two upscale models of the Hyundai brand, Genesis split off into its own division in late 2015 and currently markets just two models, the G80, formerly the Genesis sedan, and the G90, the old Hyundai Equus.

The GV80's distinctive headlamps will soon become a Genesis design signature.

Unfortunately, the market has shifted on Genesis, buyers by the millions moving from passenger cars to light trucks, so analysts say the brand needs to add SUVs as soon as possible. For his part, Fitzgerald downplayed the urgency, insisting “volume is not what we’re going after right now. It’s about establishing a new brand identity.”

That said, Genesis is working hard to get not just one but two utes into its line-up with all due haste, the second set to follow the first SUV “pretty soon after.”

Future utility vehicles, Fitzgerald also noted, will carry model designations beginning with “GV,” as in “Genesis utility Vehicle.”

One of the most unusual details of the GV80 is the concept’s “Plug-In” fuel-cell/hybrid powertrain. Engineers envisioned a system that would rely on an electric driveline but, when its batteries would run down, it would switch on a hydrogen fuel-cell stack to generate more electricity. A stack combines hydrogen with oxygen from the air to produce water vapor and electric current.

It’s an unusual twist on the range-extender concept used by such vehicles as the BMW i3 REX and Chevrolet Volt. When their batteries run down they fire up small internal combustion engines that provide power to their electric motors.

Genesis will bring out its 1st SUV in two years, quickly followed by a second ute.

(Genesis G90 a finalist for North American Car of the Year. To see who won, Click Here.)

The side of using hydrogen is that it is emissions free. The downside, Fitzgerald acknowledged, is a lack of a hydrogen fueling infrastructure.

So, while parent Hyundai does offer a pure hydrogen-powered model, a version of its Tucson SUV, Genesis is not likely to go with the plug-in/fuel-cell system, at least not anytime soon.

That said, Fitzgerald did tell TheDetroitBureau.com that his brand will adopt electrified powertrain technology, likely starting with a plug-in version of its first SUV.

(After slow start, Hyundai plugging in with array of hybrid, EV and hydrogen-electric models. Click Here for more.)

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