Hyundai to Offer Lighter, 500-Mile-Range Fuel-Cell Car by 2018

Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell  /   /  By Robert Rose

Hyundai’s next fuel-cell car will be lighter, faster and more fuel efficient, offered at “a very reasonable price,” and available in 2018. Byung Ki Ahn, director of Hyundai’s Fuel Cell Group, unveiled the new specs at HFC2015 in Vancouver, BC, the biennial conference of the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association.

The 2018 delivery date is an advance from the 2020 Hyundai has been promising since the Tucson first hit the market in Scandinavia late in 2013.

Ahn said the new car will be 15 percent lighter and more efficient, achieving nearly 500-mile range and more than 80 miles per gallon equivalent. Even if EPA discounts these numbers, as it routinely does in calculating range, the new Tucson would be an impressive advance over the current model. Add a projected top speed above 110 mph and the new Tucson could compete with Toyota’s Mirai on the track as well as in the showroom.

Of course the new vehicle may not be a Tucson; Ahn did not disclose the new design. A Hyundai representative, Derek Joyce, said he “can’t comment on future product speculation.”

The fuel cell Tucson is now in 15 countries, and the strategy appears to be to go anywhere there is hydrogen fueling infrastructure. Don Romano, president and CEO of Hyundai Auto Canada, pledged at the same conference that Hyundai would bring 50 to 100 cars to British Columbia for each new hydrogen station that comes on line.

Hyundai has shipped 10 cars to Vancouver; when Hyundai announced availability, it quickly piled up 500 expressions of interest. Romano even played a clip from the movie Field of Dreams, and promised, “If you build it [stations], we will come.”

Hyundai has been leasing fuel-cell Tucsons in California since mid-2014.

Today’s Tucson has been criticized for being “underpowered” and “nearing the end of its model life.” These comments, consumer demand, and perhaps most of all Toyota’s big splash with its Mirai, clearly have motivated Hyundai to push a more affordable and capable car out the door on an accelerated schedule. Meanwhile it’s doing the best with what it has, advertising “more cargo room than other fuel-cell vehicles.”

Sounds a lot like commercial competition.

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