- The XP-1 goes from 0 to 60mph in 2.2 seconds and takes only minutes to refuel
- Aerodynamic solar panels change position with the trajectory of the sun
- Hydrogen energy is renewable and doesn’t produce harmful emissions but it’s difficult and expensive to produce
- Only 300 cars are being manufactured for the XP-1’s initial rollout in 2022
A US automaker has just unveiled a new hydrogen-powered ‘supercar’ that can go more than 1,000 miles without needing to refuel.
The XP-1 from Hyperion revs up from zero to 60mph in a staggering 2.2 seconds, its manufacturer claims, reaching a top speed of more than 221mph – and the only thing it emits is water vapor.
The high-tech roadster is the product of nearly a decade of development, with all-wheel drive and a three-speed transmission.
When it rolls off the assembly line in 2022, it will join several other hydrogen-powered autos on the market, including the Honda Clarity, Toyota Mirai, and Hyundai Nexo.
Aerodynamic elements behind the swing-up doors help with high-speed cornering and double as solar panels that can change position to match the trajectory of the sun.
Inside the cabin, a 98-inch curved screen provides touch-free gesture controls and a wraparound glass canopy offers 360-degree view of the outside world.
Powered by hydrogen, the XP-1 is whisper-quiet compared to the latest gas guzzlers.
And it only needs a few minutes to refuel – far faster than the hours and hours a Tesla takes to completely charge up.
Hydrogen-fueled cars are also less finicky in cold weather than their electric counterparts.
And the XP-1 stores energy in carbon fiber tanks rather than a hefty lithium-ion battery.
That – and its lightweight carbon-titanium chassis – keeps its weight down to a trim 2,275 pounds.
Hyperion hasn’t disclosed the XP-1’s sticker price, but it’s likely to be in the high six figures, Tech Xplore reports.
Unlike fossil fuels, hydrogen is readily available, renewable, and doesn’t produce carbon monoxide and other harmful emissions.
But separating hydrogen from oxygen is a laborious process that requires non-renewable resources like coal or natural gas. That undercuts its selling point as an environmentally friendly alternative.
Hydrogen is also highly flammable. Just ask anyone aboard the Hindenburg.
Hyperion CEO Angelo Kafantaris insists the California-based company has conquered the safety issue. ‘You can throw our tanks off a building or shoot them with a high-powered rifle. They won’t rupture,’ he said.
Still, hydrogen’s volatility makes it tricky to transport.
And while the XP-1 is incredibly efficient, it will need to refuel at some point.
Right now there are only about 75 hydrogen fueling stations in North America, and more than half of them are in California.
Hyperion says it plans to construct a network of stations in the coming years.
Don’t expect to see the XP-1 in your supermarket parking lot anytime soon, though. Only an extremely limited run of 300 cars are planned for the initial rollout.
The big picture, says Kafantaris, is promoting hydrogen as a safe and efficient fuel source.
‘The XP-1 was partially designed to function as an educational tool for the masses,’ says Kafantaris.
‘Aerospace engineers have long understood the advantages of hydrogen as the most abundant, lightest element in the universe and now, with this vehicle, consumers will experience its extraordinary value proposition.’
HOW DO HYDROGEN FUEL CELLS WORK?
Hydrogen fuel cells create electricity to power a battery and motor by mixing hydrogen and oxygen in specially treated plates, which are combined to form the fuel cell stack.
Fuel cell stacks and batteries have allowed engineers to significantly shrink these components to even fit neatly inside a family car, although they are also commonly used to fuel buses and other larger vehicles.