Hyundai Australia has overtaken the previous hydrogen car record set in 2019 by a French aeronaut.
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A Hyundai Nexo hydrogen car has driven from Melbourne to Broken Hill – emitting only water vapour from its tailpipe – to set an unofficial long distance record.

The total distance travelled was 887.5km – according to the car’s odometer – which eclipsed the previous hydrogen car driving distance record of 778km set in 2019 by French aeronaut Bertrand Piccard, also at the wheel of a Hyundai Nexo.

In both cases the vehicles eclipsed the Hyundai Nexo's claimed maximum driving range of 666km.

The Hyundai Nexo is one of two types of hydrogen car taking part in fleet trials in Australia. Such vehicles are not yet on sale to the broader public in Australia because the refuelling infrastructure is in its infancy.

Hyundai has a fleet of 20 hydrogen vehicles on trial in Canberra while Toyota has a fleet of 20 hydrogen vehicles on trial in Melbourne.

A Brisbane trial involving a further 5 Hyundai Nexo hydrogen cars is due to commence later this year, once a refuelling point opens there.

Although there were no hydrogen refuelling stations along this journey, the fuel flap on the Hyundai Nexo was sealed by a representative of the RACV in Melbourne and checked on arrival by a representative of the NRMA in Broken Hill.

The car was transported back to Sydney on the back of a trailer because, unlike Toyota, Hyundai does not have a mobile hydrogen refueller on the back of a truck.

During the record attempt, the Nexo was driven by professional rally driver Brendan Reeves, starting from Essendon Fields on the outskirts of Melbourne.

After 807km of “efficiency-focused driving”, the Nexo arrived in Broken Hill with plenty of range still showing on the vehicle’s trip computer.

Organisers then decided to continue the journey to Silverton – best known as the setting for 1980s action film Mad Max 2.

The Hyundai Nexo continued past Silverton for another 60km until its hydrogen tank was depleted on the Wilangee road near Eldee Station.

Hyundai says the total distance driven was 887.5km, according to the Nexo’s trip computer. This surpassed the previous 778km record in France – also in a Hyundai Nexo – set in 2019 in a run from Sarreguemines to Le Bourget.

However, the hydrogen car long distance runs are yet to be recognised by Guinness World Records and, at this stage, the data is retained by Hyundai.

Interestingly, the distance measured by a separate GPS unit on the Hyundai Nexo showed a distance travelled of 903.4km, and Google Maps showed a distance of 905km.

This is despite the fact that, customarily, vehicle speedometers and odometers tend to overestimate vehicle speed and distance to ensure drivers stay within speed laws.

However, for the purposes of the test, the Hyundai Nexo’s trip computer was used as the official distance of record.

Hyundai says the journey took 13 hours and six minutes. To eke out the extra distance, the vehicle was driven at a modest average speed of 66.9km/h – much slower than the 110kmh posted speed limit on outback NSW roads.

The Hyundai Nexo’s low fuel warning first lit up at 686km, “with over 200km of range left from that point,” the company said.

“The fuel light started flashing after 796km, with 90km of real range remaining,” says Hyundai.

Data supplied by Hyundai shows, during the trip, the Nexo consumed a total of 6.27kg of hydrogen, at a rate of 0.706kg/100km.

Unlike an electric car, hydrogen vehicles take between three and five minutes to refuel from empty to full – similar to the time it takes to top up a petrol car.

Hyundai claims the Nexo purified 449,100 litres of air on the journey – enough for 33 adults to breathe in a day – and its plastic exhaust pipe emitted only water vapour.

Whereas a standard petrol car would have emitted an estimated 126kg of CO2 over the same distance, the Hyundai Nexo had zero emissions other than heat and water vapour.