2019 Hyundai Nexo hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle pricing: puzzling economics

Hyundai Nexo

Pricing for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, like the upcoming 2019 Hyundai Nexo, hasn’t meant all that much up until now. That’s because both of the other fuel-cell vehicles currently offered—and most of them offered to date—have been leased, under highly subsidized lease programs.

But it’s actually not in this case here. Hyundai plans to sell the Nexo, not just lease it.

According to information found by the pricing experts at CarsDirect, it’s set a price of $59,345 for the base 2019 Hyundai Nexo Blue and $62,845 for the Nexo Limited. Both include a $1,045 destination fee. We’ve reached out to Hyundai for comment on whether this makes the Nexo’s U.S. arrival date, previously not expected to be before April 2019, any earlier.

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That’s just $60 more than the official sticker price of the lease-only Mirai that goes on Toyota’s captive-credit financial documents. Honda isn’t currently offering the Clarity Fuel Cell, but it noted to Green Car Reports that the 2019 model is expected to rejoin the lineup in the spring. The 2018 Clarity Fuel Cell carried a $58,490 price tag.

The Nexo Limited model adds a Krell premium audio system, heated steering wheel, and ventilated front seats, as well as a hands-free power rear tailgate, a full-width glass sunroof, larger 19-inch wheels, and an Around-View monitor. Blue models come with a full suite of active-safety features plus heated seats and 17-inch alloys.

In our 2019 Hyundai Nexo first drive, published in October, we found this mid-size crossover to be spacious, smooth, responsive, and well-designed—with the sole exceptions being the wide, space-robbing “bridge” center console design, housing a matrix of matte-silver buttons.

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Hyundai boasts that the Nexo’s driving range is 380 miles—more than the Mirai, the Clarity Fuel Cell, or the longest-range Tesla, the Model S 100D.

The Nexo replaces the Tucson Fuel Cell, which was last offered for 2017; Hyundai only leased 200 of those.

2019 Hyundai Nexo, Topanga Canyon, CA, Oct 2018

The Nexo, slated to be a California vehicle for now, will be eligible for a $5,000 California Clean Vehicle Rebate, but it’s not eligible for any federal tax credit; a federal Fuel Cell Motor Vehicle Tax Credit, which ranged up to $8,000, depending on fuel efficiency, expired at the end of 2017.

READ MORE: This one 11-year-old chart explains the problem with hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles

Although the Nexo isn’t cheap, it’s the fueling costs—and the associated logistical hurdles—that remain the bigger issue. There are only about 35 publicly accessible hydrogen stations in California now, but the plan is to have 59 open by the start of 2020.

With pricing out, there’s much yet to be told in how Hyundai aims to make the Nexo worthwhile for buyers. Hydrogen refueling can cost two to three times a tank of gas and many times more than a fully charged long-range EV battery. Toyota and Honda already subsidize the vehicles and refueling under lucrative lease plans; how will Hyundai lure in early adopters to make the purchase plunge?

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