Hyundai intends to put its fuel-cell Tucson into what executives call, oxymoronically, “small-scale mass-production.” By 2015, total production will have reached 1000 units, mostly for Europe. After 2015, the aim is to ramp output further, the company’s European boss saying it could be “up to 10,000 units a year after 2015, mostly for California and Europe, provided the market and infrastructure are up to it.” The car will be built on the regular Tucson assembly line in Ulsan, Korea. It will be lease-only to selected fleets, at launch. After 2015, it will be made available for private buyers, at a projected $52,000.
It has a 100-kilowatt stack, and the company claims it’s capable of 100 mph, with a 12.5-second 0-62-mph time. The range on a full tank of hydrogen is 367 miles on the European test drive cycle. The tank capacity is 12 pounds of hydrogen, at 10,000 psi. Refueling takes “a few minutes” at that pressure and the refuelling nozzle adheres to the global standard for filling stations. The stack gets its oxygen from ambient rather than compressed air, which means, Hyundai says, lower parasitic power loss. Passengers hear less noise because there is no compressor. The stack feeds a lithium-ion buffer battery like that used in the Sonata Hybrid. The car’s EV-like in its silence and smoothness. Passenger space is uncompromised, and the trunk floor is only a few inches higher. Hyundai joins Honda, Daimler, Nissan, and Toyota in working with European local and city governments to get a hydrogen refueling infrastructure in place.