Following a similar report last month for the UK, Hyundai announced yesterday that it will begin series production of its hydrogen ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle (known in the U.S. as the Tucson) for European public and private lease by the end of 2012.
In December 2012, Hyundai will begin production of the ix35 Fuel Cell at its Ulsan manufacturing facility in Korea, with a target of building up to 1,000 vehicles by 2015.
Hyundai has already signed contracts with cities in Denmark and Sweden to lease the ix35 Fuel Cell to municipal fleets. Hyundai U.S. is also working on this side of the Atlantic to roll out the Tucson Fuel Cell to fleets in the L.A. and S.F. areas of California.
Beyond 2015, Hyundai plans limited mass production of the ix35 Fuel Cell, with a goal of 10,000 units.
Built with proprietary technology, Hyundai’s Tucson Fuel Cell is powered by hydrogen. A fuel cell stack converts the hydrogen into electricity, which in turn charges the Lithium Polymer battery that powers the vehicle’s electric motor. The only emission generated by the Tucson Fuel Cell is water vapor.
According to Hyundai, as governments around the world step up regulations to reduce carbon output and fossil fuel dependency, zero-emissions mobility solutions such as Hyundai’s Tucson Fuel Cell will become a driving force of change. The Tucson Fuel Cell aligns with the 2009 agreement by the European Union’s G8 countries to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and California’s Zero Emission Vehicle regulations.
Hyundai’s Tucson Fuel Cell boasts drivability and performance similar to that of the gas-powered Tucson. The Tucson Fuel Cell can be filled with hydrogen in only a few minutes. It accelerates from zero to 62 mph in 12.5 seconds, has a top speed of 160 kph (100 mph) and has a range of 588 km (365 miles).
Hyundai chose its popular Tucson as the first vehicle for its fuel cell technology as it is Hyundai’s second-best-selling car in Europe, behind the i30, and was one of the first to display Hyundai’s award-winning Fluidic Sculpture design identity.
Hyundai is encouraged by the actions of several governments, especially in Europe, that have created detailed roadmaps for building a hydrogen infrastructure and are providing necessary funds. Hydrogen fuelling stations exist in several European nations and additional ones are being built and planned. Expansion of fuelling stations is also anticipated in Korea and California, and Hyundai will supply its Tucson Fuel Cell to public and private fleets there, as well.
Unlike other fuel cell vehicles that use compressed air to supply oxygen to the fuel cell stack, Hyundai’s Tucson Fuel Cell uses ambient air. This reduces parasitic loss in the oxygen supply, raising fuel efficiency and reducing power consumption by 50 percent. For passengers, the elimination of an air compressor reduces noise inside the cabin.
In addition to the fuel cell stack, the Tucson Fuel Cell uses the same lithium-polymer battery found in the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. A kinetic energy regeneration system charges the battery when the driver applies the brakes or drives downhill.
The Tucson Fuel Cell is equipped with stop/start technology, which shuts down the fuel cell stack and relies on battery power only when the vehicle is idling, minimizing energy loss in city driving.
Hyundai’s fuel cell program is based at its Eco-Technology Research Institute in Mabuk, Korea, about 45 minutes south of Seoul. The center represents the leading edge of Hyundai’s eco-friendly power train research.
Fuel cell output power: 100 kw
Energy storage system: Battery, 24 kw
Fuel Hydrogen: (700 bar, 5.6 kg)
Exhaust gas: Water vapor