Consumers interested in green vehicles will soon have access to yet another technology: fuel cell vehicles. Though the technology is not new — it has been tested extensively for a number of years — the 2015 Tucson Fuel Cell vehicles that arrived at a port near Los Angeles this week are the first mass produced models to hit the US market.
Sales to Commence Within Weeks
Sales of the new models are expected to commence within the next few weeks. Three Southern California dealers will receive the initial supply.
You can’t buy the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell (FCEV), but you can lease one.
Hyundai’s leasing program is offering the vehicle for $499 per month, a price that includes unlimited free hydrogen refueling and a valet maintenance program just like the one offered with the Hyundai Equus. Customers will also be required to put $2,999 down for this 36-month lease.
“Hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles represent the next generation of zero-emission electric vehicle technology, and we’re proud of our leadership role in this important segment of the alternative fuel vehicle market,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president, corporate and product planning, Hyundai Motor America. “The range and refueling time of our Tucson FCEV compare favorably with gasoline vehicles, making them a seamless transition from traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. We’re excited to provide customers in Southern California a way to transition to a zero-emission vehicle with minimal compromises.
Hyundai claims that consumers have shown strong interest in fuel cells, with more than 200,000 hits to its fuel cell microsite. In the Tucson Fuel Cell, Hyundai beats out its competitors by offering the first mass produced hydrogen vehicle of its kinds, beating Toyota, GM, BMW and others to the market. Honda has long had its FCX Clarity available, but only in very small quantities.
Hyundai is touting the Tucson FCEV as an “EV for people on the move.” The company says that it will take less than 10 minutes to fully fill the Tucson FCV compared to three hours for today’s EVs using a 240-volt outlet.
Other benefits of the Tucson FCEV is that it has a long driving range, limited weather impact, zero emissions (it emits only water vapor), instant torque and that it uses a domestic fuel source. FCVs also are quiet and the technology scales to other sized vehicles.
Hydrogen Refilling Station Network
The main challenge for consumers will be refueling. At present, there are just 11 public hydrogen fueling stations in the United States — 9 are in Southern California. Earlier this month the state of California updated its plans for a hydrogen refueling network, nothing that Toyota promised to contribute financial backing.
California’s investment is about $200 million and will push the number of filling stations past 100. No other states have yet to commit to the technology as has California.
Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America.