The first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle entered the marketplace on June 10 when John Patterson, owner of Tustin Hyundai presented the keys of a Tucson Fuel Cell CUV to Hyundai’s first hydrogen fuel cell customer, Huntington Beach resident Timothy Bush. Mr. Bush obtained the zero-emission vehicle at an attractive lease rate of $499. Included in the lease is unlimited free hydrogen fuel and At Your Service Valet Maintenance at no additional cost. In addition to Tustin Hyundai, the vehicle will initially be available at two other Southland dealerships: Win Hyundai in Carson and Hardin Hyundai in Anaheim. The Fuel Cell CUV can be had for a $499 per months and a down payment of $2,999 for a 36-month lease.
“Hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles represent the next generation of zero-emission vehicle technology, and we’re thrilled to be a leader in offering the mass-produced Tucson Fuel Cell to our first retail customer,” noted Dave Zuchowski, president and chief executive officer, Hyundai Motor America. He added, “The range and refueling speed of our new Tucson Fuel Cell compares favorably with gasoline vehicles, making them a seamless transition for our customers from traditional gasoline vehicles. We’re sure that fuel cell technology will increase the adoption of zero-emission vehicles, and that everyone will benefit. The commitment of the State of California and their support in creating a hydrogen fueling infrastructure has been an important part of our decision to offer this fuel cell vehicle to the public.”
On the outside, the vehicle is identical to other Tucson CUVs; however, the power plant is completely different––it also differs from the other electric vehicles now on the market. The fuel cell replaces the battery pack used in an electric vehicle by the generation of electricity from hydrogen through an electrochemical process; thus, the hydrogen is not burned and there are no moving parts within the fuel cell. The electrochemical process works as follows: hydrogen enters the anode, air (oxygen) enters the cathode; a catalyst splits the hydrogen electrons and protons; an electrolyte conducts the positively-charged ions while blocking the electrons; electrons are used to create an external circuit, generating electricity; and the catalyst combines the hydrogen ions and electrons with oxygen to create water and heat energy. Each fuel cell produces about one volt; fuel cells are “stacked” to meet voltage requirements
The vehicle has an impressive driving range of 265 miles and refueling takes less than 10 minutes. Electric motor torque is instantaneous and, compared to a traditional electric vehicle, cold weather starts are not a problem. The simplicity of the fuel cell system offers excellent daily reliability and long-term durability: since 2000, Hyundai’s fuel cell fleet has undergone more that 2 million durability test miles. The power-generating fuel cell stack contains no moving parts. The vehicle has undergone extensive crash, fire, and leak tests. The fuel cell CUV is much quieter than its gasoline counterpart.
Hydrogen refueling stations are increasing in California; click on this link for the current list. For additional information on the Tucson Fuel Cell CUV, click on this link. For information on the complete Hyundai vehicle lineup, click on this link.