Yes, Hyundai's Nexo is a super-cooled hydrogen fuel cell car with a wide LCD dashboard and a maximum range of 380 miles (longest in the hydrogen fuel crowd), but the Nexo skill that has really grabbed people's attention is its remote control self-parking feature.
On a sun-filled afternoon outside Harman's offices (the company supplies sound systems to Hyundai), the automaker demonstrated the Nexo in action. It backed in and out of parking spaces for most of the afternoon and made not a single mistake. No dings, no swearing.
The self-parking feature only works for parallel parking or for backing into perpendicular spots. It will not drive the car in head first, which is a problem for some spots in southern Cali where you'll get a ticket if you back the car in.
As a safety precaution, you must be within 6 feet of the car holding the key fob controller while the Nexo parks itself. You're there in case the car's ultrasonic sensors fail to detect another car or a passing pedestrian. To test it out, we walked in front of the car several times and it stopped easily without fail (thank goodness). In fact, it tended to make one very cavalier about walking in front of moving cars.
The hydrogen fuel cell Nexo is only practical in California, where's there's a loose network of re-fueling stations. There are three pressurized tanks in the car that hold the hydrogen, which is combined with oxygen from the air to create energy to drive the car's motor. The re-fueling stations look like gas pumps but funnel the cooled, pressurized hydrogen into your car rather than gas. Hyundai has definitely refined the technology, enabling colder starts, greater range, and a design with handling that's just like a traditional gas-powered car.
But what about the self-parking feature? It's not new. In fact, I wrote about it in The New York Times when it was demonstrated by BMW back in 2015 using a different suite of senors. But the best thing about the Hyundai system is that it works using lower priced components, so don't be surprised to see it in more modestly priced Hyundai machines next year.