Hyundai’s fuel cell vehicle to hit US roads in 2014

We’ve talked at length here before about how Hyundai seemingly has the lead in the race to bring mass production fuel cell vehicles to market. Already effectively doing this in Europe, the South Korean automaker has now dropped a bombshell of an announcement in the United States with plans to make a limited offering available to retail customers starting next spring.

Hyundai said at the Los Angeles Auto Show it would begin making available at several of its southern California dealerships its Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle for $499 per month for a 36-month term, with $2,999 down. This includes unlimited hydrogen refueling for free, which should be made easier for all involved given the modernization of its refueling station in that region that’s currently going on.

image via Hyundai

Availability of the Tucson Fuel Cell will not be limited to just the lower portion of California for long for those wanting to try out this technology elsewhere, as Hyundai noted it will expand to other regions of the country “consistent with the accelerating deployment of hydrogen refueling stations.”

Key technical features of this fuel cell vehicle, according to the auto company, include

  • Driving range up to 300 miles
  • Capable of full refueling in under 10 minutes, similar to gasoline
  • Minimal reduction in daily utility compared with its gasoline counterpart
  • Instantaneous electric motor torque (221 lb-ft)
  • Minimal cold-weather effects compared with battery electric vehicles
  • Superb daily reliability and long-term durability
    • No moving parts within the power-generating fuel cell stack
    • More than two million durability test miles on Hyundai’s fuel cell fleet since 2000
  • Extensive crash, fire and leak testing successfully completed
  • Quieter EV operation
  • Zero greenhouse-gas emissions, emits only water vapor

For those unsure on whether or not this Tucson is for them or not, Hyundai has teamed up with Enterprise Rent-A-Car to make the vehicle available to consumers at select locations in the Los Angeles/Orange County region starting next spring.

“Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles represent the next generation of zero-emission vehicle technology, so we’re thrilled to be a leader in offering the mass-produced, federally certified Tucson Fuel Cell to retail customers,” said John Krafcik, president and chief executive officer, Hyundai Motor America, in a statement. “The superior range and fast-fill refueling speed of our Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle contrast with the lower range and slow-charge characteristics of competing battery electric vehicles. We think fuel cell technology will increase the adoption rate of zero-emission vehicles, and we’ll all share the environmental benefits.”

* Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling