The Hyundai Motor Company has announced that it will begin production of the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell crossover in December. That will make it one of the world’s first hydrogen-powered vehicle to be mass produced.
Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell ahead of competition
Toyota has said that it will be 2015 before automakers will be ready to begin mass-producing hydrogen cars. Honda has had the FCX Clarity available since 2008, but only on a lease basis in Southern California. It recently says it will be making the cars available for purchase in 2015.
The Korean automaker rolled out the ix35 Fuel Cell at the 2012 Paris Auto Show last month.
Hyundai will begin with a small run of only about 1,000 cars over the next two years. By that time, it hopes, there will be more infrastructure to support the refueling of hydrogen vehicles. After that, it wants to set a manufacturing goal of 10,000 cars a year. The cars will be built at Hyundai’s production plant in Ulsan, South Korea.
Hydrogen fuel cell technology
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are not technologically complex. They use a fuel cell stack that can turn hydrogen into electricity to charge a Lithium Polymer battery. They are driven by electric motors, like traditional EVs, but the hydrogen fuel source eliminates the range limitation worries faced by drivers of those vehicles. The ix35 has an estimated range of 365 miles. Truly emissions free, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles emit only water.
While they may lack the power of a fossil-fuel engine, the ix35 Fuel Cell crossover will go from 0 to 60 in 12.5 seconds and cruise at 100 mile per hour. Except for a reduction in engine noise, it is said that drivers won’t notice much difference between them and their old gas guzzler.
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Lease to Denmark
Last week, we reported that Hyundai was leasing 15 hydrogen powered ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles to the Danish capital Copenhagen as part of its initiative to be carbon-neutral by 2025.
Cost is a big object
Hyundai has not released price projections for the vehicles, but promises to do so nearer their availability. However, cost is certainly an object in making the vehicles viable for significant adoption by the motoring public.
Last year, Toyota implied that getting hydrogen vehicles on the market by 2015 would take an act of magic. Toyota said the cost of making them will have to come down before they are commercially viable. At that point, it said, fuel cell vehicles cost about 10 million yen each to build. That is just over $128,000.
Mitsuhisa Kato, head of Toyota’s product planning group, said in 2010:
“Ten million yen is quite a lot of money, so we wouldn’t call that commercially viable. We have to reduce costs further to make it commercially viable.”