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Hyundai fuel cell semi concept makes the Tesla Semi look boring

Called the HDC-6 Neptune, it's a pretty great-looking thing.

Hyundai fuel cell semi concept makes the Tesla Semi look boring
Is it possible for semis to look sexy?

Design in the early- to mid-20th century was full of optimism. Art deco and the "rocket age" look became staples. Hyundai is tapping into those feelings for an area that often isn't full of creativity: semi trucks.

Hyundai revealed the Hyundai HDC-6 Neptune on Monday, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered semi truck that looks like something from a cross between Tron and I, Robot. Its striking looks graced the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta, and the we received a few more details about the unique semi concept.

Foremost, the name Neptune honors the Roman god of the seas. The sea, after all, could be the world's largest source of potential hydrogen fuel. The automaker also mentioned it's learned a lot from its fuel cell passenger-vehicle program, most recently with the Nexo crossover, and it sounds like those lessons helped shape the HDC-6 Neptune.

With a hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain, the company said designers looked at the semi with a clean-sheet reinterpretation. One thing is very prominent, however. Since the powertrain needs a lot of cooling, the grille stretches across the entire lower portion of the HDC-6 Neptune.

Hyundai said it believes zero-emission trucks will play a major part in taking carbon out of the environment. Honestly, this truck will probably look good while doing it, too. Hyundai specifically mentions art deco as an influence for the fuel cell truck concept: Designers looked closely at 1930s streamliner railway trains. It's not only neat-looking, this design marries form and function. As one example, the grille integrates retractable steps. Additionally, by morphing traditional cab-over engine and conventional designs, Hyundai said it's achieved pretty incredible ergonomics while maintaining efficiency.

This looks a lot nicer than today's semi cabins.


Judging by the lack of real-world photos of the interior, I have to imagine this concept doesn't pack a real cabin. However, renderings show a screen wraps around the oblong windshield and there's still a steering wheel present. From the looks of it, pedals are absent, however. The area where a bench seat typically takes up space instead features two captain's chairs with a center console bolted between them. Finally, a prominent head-up display (HUD) is also mirrored onto the windshield.

Hyundai said its absolutely ready to crack into the US commercial vehicle market, and we could see something like the HDC-6 Neptune inspire a production semi when it gets here. Right now, it's running 1,600 fuel cell semis in Switzerland for trials. The US, according to the company, is on deck next.

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