Hyundai's commercial vehicles division isn't afraid to step out of its comfort zone. After unveiling an eight-seater drift van, the South Korean firm released two teaser sketches that give us an early look at an experimental, hydrogen-powered semi truck named HDC-6 Neptune. It will make its global debut in late October alongside an eco-friendly refrigerated trailer concept.
The image showing the HDC-6 Neptune's exterior was taken with the lights off, but it confirms the truck looks nothing like the semis currently meandering across America. Hyundai noted its stylists borrowed styling cues from 1930s trains to pen a head-turning, function-driven big rig. The arched silhouette emphasizes the rail-inspired look, but the trim that wraps around the bottom part of the body also reminds us of the Futurliner drawn by Harley Earl for General Motors' Parade of Progress.
Inside, the driver sits behind a single-spoke wheel, and views information like navigation directions and the posted speed limit on a jumbo-sized head-up display. Minimalism and simplicity were the guiding keywords during the design phase. The frame around the windshield replaces both the instrument cluster and the infotainment system's touchscreen, a layout that eliminates a vast majority of the buttons normally found in a truck's cab. It looks like there's a bed, too, and the infotainment system offers a menu labeled "movie," so the HDC-6 Neptune was designed for the long haul.
Its name is a tribute to the Roman god of the seas, and not because it's amphibious. The HDC-6 Neptune is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that channels the electricity it generates to electric motors. Additional specifications — like its maximum driving range — remain under wraps. There's no word on what makes the refrigerated trailer greener than what's currently available, either.
Hyundai currently makes semis, but it doesn't sell them in America, and none of its mass-produced models run on hydrogen. It will unveil the HDC-6 Neptune concept during the North American Commercial Vehicles Show opening its doors in Atlanta, Georgia, on October 29. We expect the company will announce more details about what the future holds for its design study during the event.
If it receives the green light for production, the HDC-6 Neptune will compete in a segment of the commercial truck industry that Tesla and Nikola have already planted their flag in. Tesla is still testing its electric semi in California, while Nikola plans hydrogen- and battery-powered trucks.