There is a saying that “challenging has no age.” It’s beautiful to not give up when it’s too late, but to try harder and challenge because it’s too late ‒ just like Gil‒soo Seo’s challenge this year, 79 years old. In Korea, he traveled around 150 islands four times in 2021 with Hyundai Motor’s hydrogen car Nexo, and in July of this year, he decided to cross Japan with his Nexo.
Without the NEXO, Gil‒soo’s challenge would not have been possible. He thought about returning his driver’s license while letting go of his Sonata, which he had been with for 21 years, but decided to buy a new car after seeing the Nexo. “If hydrogen cars hadn’t come out, I would have returned my driver’s license. The reason I chose NEXO is that it is responsible consumption. I believe that the only alternative energy for humanity to survive is to have no pollution problems and to purify the air. And being able to spend the end of my life in a car of the future that the next generation will use is also a great motivation,” explains Gil‒soo.
Gil‒soo Seo’s challenge is his first overseas trip with a hydrogen car. There is a reason: Japan, like Korea, is actively preparing for a hydrogen society. With the declaration of carbon neutrality in 2017, Japan is commercializing hydrogen and expanding its supply chain to realize a hydrogen society by 2050. There are already 159 hydrogen fueling stations (as of 2021).
Gil‒soo drove his Nexo from Kyushu, the westernmost tip of Japan, to Sapporo, the easternmost tip of Japan. His wife and grandchildren were also on this journey. The Nexo has become a reliable companion on this long‒distance trip for a family of four. The total distance Gil‒soo Seo drove tirelessly for 20 days from July 21st to August 10th was 4,521km.
Here’s the secret of how he succeeded in crossing Japan: Six months ago, he searched for the location of a hydrogen refueling station and made a route for this trip. Among them was a notable charging station in Shikaoi, Hokkaido, a livestock farming area. One cow makes about 23 tons of manure per year. So hydrogen can be produced enough to drive one hydrogen car for 10,000 km; It’s like producing milk and hydrogen in the same place.
It must have been difficult for him to drive long distances without missing a day for 20 days. He explained the advantages of hydrogen‒powered vehicles: “Compared to internal combustion engines, it is very easy to start and accelerate in hydrogen vehicles. It was very convenient to drive the car. I would have been very tired to drive 4,500 km for 20 days in a conventional car. But hydrogen Nexo is very quiet, so I was much less tired on the long‒distance drive.”
Of course, not everything turned out to be easy. Despite Japan operating 159 hydrogen fueling stations, it does not mean that they are everywhere. When traveling across the country, the distance between charging stations is quite important. In particular, some hydrogen fueling stations allowed only a smaller amount than planned; It took 522 kilometers for the roundtrip to get to their final destination, Cape Nosappu in Nemuro City, Hokkaido, but the remaining range was only 500km long.
But there was a pleasing twist; As they got closer to their destination, the Nexo’s remaining mileage did not decrease. Thanks to the Nexo’s excellent fuel economy that exceeded expectations, they were able to make a round trip. Without hesitation, he headed for Cape Nosappu, the easternmost point of Japan. The 20‒day journey with his wife and grandchildren was about to come to an end.
When they went to the easternmost point in Japan and returned to the charging station, the NEXO’s remaining driving range was still 49 km. He and the staff at the charging station were both amazed. His journey became an opportunity for the outstanding perfection of Hyundai’s hydrogen cars to become known in Japan. Japanese auto magazines and experts who showed interest in the Nexo crossing Japan also requested an interview with him.
“Hydrogen cars are often stereotyped as being second cars used around the neighborhood. Hydrogen cars cannot be improved if the disadvantages overshadow all the advantages, such as concerns about hydrogen fueling stations. If consumers don’t buy it, the product cannot develop. So I continued my journey with the hydrogen NEXO. I wanted to convey that it is possible to travel around the country with a hydrogen car,” he explains.
He said that this trip was “personally very meaningful” to him. “This trip was also a self‒experiment to see if I could drive more than 4,500 km in 20 days at the age of 79. A sense of accomplishment and the times I had with my grandchildren mean a lot to me. It was a very nice project to celebrate the last days of my life.”
He will continue to drive with his Nexo ‒ probably because he wants to let his grandchildren experience the future vehicle. Nexo is an eco‒friendly car that puts the sustainability of humanity as its top priority. He finally said: “I will stay with the Nexo until I can’t drive at all, or fully autonomous cars are available. The fuel of the future should be hydrogen.”
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
Pursuant to the Creative Commons License (CCL) 2.0, all users can copy, distribute, and transmit Information available on the Hyundai Motor Group Newsroom, or use it for exhibitions and performances. Please note, however, that all information is protected by copyright. Information users must use the information available on the Hyundai Motor Group Newsroom for strictly private/personal purposes only.HMG Operation Policy