Kia Wants To Launch 500-Mile Fuel Cell Vehicle In 2020

Kia Motors announced plans to have a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle ready for mass production in 2020.

With the help of 300 partner companies, Kia said it is currently working to develop its next-generation hydrogen fuel stack. This will power an upcoming fuel cell vehicle (FCV) with a targeted launch date in 2020 and initial production set at 1,000 vehicles per year.

The FCV “will feature a fuel stack similar in size to a 2.0-liter internal combustion engine, which development teams believe will offer drivers a high level of durability and power density from the advanced powertrain,” Kia said.

Range is expected to surpass 500 miles per fill-up, said Kia, which is significantly higher than other fuel cell vehicles presently on the market. The 2016 Tucson Fuel Cell, produced by Kia’s parent company Hyundai Motors, is rated by the EPA with a 265-mile range. Kia said it will achieve these performance improvements by increasing the power density of the fuel cell stack.

“Kia engineers are planning to develop the brand’s next-generation fuel cell stack to be 5 percent more efficient and offer 10 percent greater stack performance, despite being around 15 percent lighter and 15 percent lower in volume, compared to current generation fuel cell stacks,” the carmaker said. “The result is a targeted range of more than 800 kilometers [497 miles] from a single fill-up and a top speed of around 170 kilometers per hour [106 mph].

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When the upcoming FCV debuts, Kia will likely be competing in a segment also populated by Audi, Nissan, and Honda – just a few of the other carmakers that have also recently announced plans to mass produce an FCV in the next five or so years.

But it’s still unclear what form Kia’s vehicle will be: a sedan to compete with the Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity, or perhaps something larger, like the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell. In the past, Kia’s experiment with production FCVs included the Borrego FCEV (pictured above). First shown in 2008, this SUV used a 115 kilowatt fuel cell and was capable of driving about 315 miles.