2013 Los Angeles: Hyundai jumps on the hydrogen fuel cell bandwagon with a Tuscon

Hyundai just released the opportunity for consumers to lease a hydrogen fuel cell version of one of their conventional vehicles; the Tuscon. For $499 per month, one can now drive a fuel cell SUV starting in spring of 2014 in Southern California; which makes sense, given SoCal’s hydrogen refueling infrastructure. $499 for a three year term for an inexpensive SUV may seem like quite a bit, but the fuel is included in the price, and it is unlimited for lessees.

Hyundai is pushing hard for folks to adopt the vehicle, offering their Equus Valet services as part of the deal. This means that lessees can have Hyundai pick up the car and drop off a loaner at the customer’s house or business.

The car itself has a range of up to 300 miles; available torque is 221 ft-lbs from an electric motor; there are otherwise few detail on the car in the press release, so we are lead to believe that is a pretty standard Tuscon. Hyundai is also offering this car at a limited number of Enterprise Rent-a-Car locations in Southern California.

HYUNDAI OFFERS TUCSON FUEL CELL HYDROGEN-POWERED ELECTRIC VEHICLE TO RETAIL CUSTOMERS IN SPRING 2014

$499 per month to Drive the World’s First Mass-Produced Fuel Cell Vehicle, Including Unlimited Free Hydrogen Refueling and At Your Service Valet Maintenance

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 20, 2013 – Hyundai today announced plans to offer its next-generation Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle for the U.S. market for just $499 per month, including unlimited free hydrogen refueling and At Your Service Valet Maintenance at no extra cost. For the first time, retail consumers will be able to put a mass-produced, federally certified hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in their driveways, with availability beginning in Spring 2014 at several Southern California Hyundai dealers.

“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. “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.”

FUEL CELL PRICING AND BENEFITS
The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell will initially be offered to customers in the Los Angeles/Orange County region for $499 per month for a 36-month term, with $2,999 down. This includes the addition of a remarkable new addition to the Hyundai Assurance program –unlimited free hydrogen refueling. “When we spoke to customers interested in driving a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, many wondered what the cost of hydrogen would be,” said John Krafcik. “To ease those concerns as we build-out the hydrogen refueling network, we thought covering this cost for these early adopters in the monthly payment was the best approach, and consistent with other aspects of our Hyundai Assurance program. It’s our way of saying: ‘This is another thing you don’t have to worry about, we’ve got your back.’”

In addition, Tucson Fuel Cell owners will enjoy all the same services of the Hyundai Equus “At Your Service” valet program. As Equus owners have enjoyed since its introduction in 2010, should a Tucson Fuel Cell require any service, a Hyundai dealer will pick up the vehicle and provide a loaner, then return their car after service to their home or business, at no charge.

Customers interested in the Tucson Fuel Cell can indicate their interest (the first step in the ordering process) beginning today by visiting Hyundai.com.

The first four Hyundai dealers to offer the Tucson Fuel Cell to Southern California customers are Hardin Hyundai in Anaheim, Win Hyundai in Carson, Keyes Hyundai in Van Nuys and Tustin Hyundai, with additional Hyundai dealers to follow. Availability of the Tucson Fuel Cell will expand to other regions of the country consistent with the accelerating deployment of hydrogen refueling stations.

THE NEXT-GENERATION ELECTRIC VEHICLE
To achieve societal goals of significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, more and more consumers will need to drive zero-emissions vehicles. Currently, there’s an ongoing debate about the future of the electric vehicle, with two schools of thought:

  1. Store more electricity on-board using more/larger batteries
  2. Create electricity on-board with hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology

Developed over 100 years ago, the battery electric vehicle has made progress in recent years, with improved affordability and energy storage capability. But for most consumers, range anxiety and lengthy recharging time remain formidable obstacles to using them in their daily lives. In addition, affordable electric vehicle technology is best suited to smaller urban vehicles, not larger family and utility vehicles that many families require to meet all of their needs. Because of the inherent weight and cost of batteries, and the chemistry and physics that drive slow recharge times, today’s electric vehicles have practical limits for many consumers.

TUCSON FUEL CELL ADVANTAGES
Hyundai is introducing its Tucson Fuel Cell to alleviate the limitations of traditional battery electric vehicles. The Tucson Fuel Cell maintains the day-to-day flexibility of the gasoline-powered Tucson so that its driver is able to immediately enjoy the next generation of electric vehicles without range or recharge-time compromises to their lifestyle.

The Tucson Fuel Cell represents the next generation of electric vehicles – those that create their own electricity, on-board, from hydrogen. According to UCI’s Advanced Power and Energy Program’s 2013 study, the hydrogen fuel cell provides lower total well-to-wheel emissions than a battery electric vehicle. For the Tucson Fuel Cell driver, this social benefit is achieved with greater utility, versatility and without compromises. Consider:

  • 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 durabilityExtensive crash, fire and leak testing successfully completed
    • 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
  • Quieter EV operation
  • Zero greenhouse-gas emissions, emits only water vapor

* Estimated driving range based on internal tests; EPA ratings to be determined by launch

The Tucson Fuel Cell begins mass production for the U.S. market in February 2014 at the Ulsan, Korea assembly plant that also manufactures the Tucson gasoline-powered CUV. Manufacturing the Tucson Fuel Cell at the same plant allows Hyundai to leverage both the high quality and cost-efficiency of its popular gasoline-powered Tucson platform.

HYDROGEN RENEWABLE ENERGY SOLUTIONS
The benefits of hydrogen are well known — required supplies for the U.S. market can be produced domestically and its supply is virtually unlimited. It can be produced by varied means – including renewable sources such as biogas. In fact, Hyundai’s Fuel Cell prototypes have relied on hydrogen generated at the Orange County Sanitation District near its Fountain Valley headquarters, where methane from sewage is turned into hydrogen. Hydrogen can even be sourced directly from water, using electrolysis to split hydrogen molecules with electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar.

Further supporting hydrogen infrastructure development, California approved a plan in October 2013 to develop up to 100 hydrogen refueling stations in the state over the next several years. This recent California initiative dovetails with increased government support of hydrogen infrastructure development at the federal level, such as H2USA.

HYDROGEN: LOWEST WELL-TO-WHEEL EMISSIONS
According to 2013 studies on well-to-wheel greenhouse-gas emissions (GHG) by the Advanced Power and Energy Program at the University of California, Irvine, hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles have the lowest overall emission levels of all alternative fuel entries. Well-to-wheel emissions for hydrogen vehicles sourced from natural gas are lower than battery electric vehicles, and less than half of equivalent gasoline vehicle emissions. Even more impressive, hydrogen emissions sourced from biogas are a tiny fraction of equivalent gasoline vehicle emissions, yielding an extremely high factor of long-range emissions sustainability.

FUEL CELL TECHNOLOGY: HOW IT WORKS

Hyundai’s fuel cell effectively replaces the battery pack used in an electric vehicle by generating electricity from hydrogen through an electrochemical process that does not involve hydrogen combustion, with no moving parts within the fuel cell stack.

The fuel cell electrochemical process is as follows:

  • Hydrogen enters the anode, air (oxygen) enters the cathode
  • Catalyst splits the hydrogen electrons and protons
  • Electrolyte conducts the positively-charged ions while blocking the electrons
  • Electrons are used to create an external circuit, generating electricity
  • Catalyst combines the hydrogen ions and electrons with oxygen to create water and heat energy
  • A single fuel cell produces approximately one volt; fuel cells are “stacked” to meet voltage requirements

ENTERPRISE RENT-A-CAR EVALUATION DRIVE AVAILABILITY
Hyundai is also partnering with Enterprise Rent-A-Car to make the Tucson Fuel Cell available to consumers at select locations in the Los Angeles/Orange County region. This partnership will enable interested consumers to evaluate the Tucson Fuel Cell for their lifestyles on a multi-day basis, with rental availability also planned for Spring 2014.

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA
Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Costa Mesa, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 820 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully-transferable new vehicle limited warranty, Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and five years of complimentary Roadside Assistance. Hyundai Assurance includes Assurance Connected Care that provides owners of Hyundai models equipped with the Hyundai Blue Link telematics system with proactive safety and car care services complimentary for three years. These services include Automatic Collision Notification, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Vehicle Diagnostic Alert, Monthly Vehicle Health Report and in-vehicle service scheduling.

– By: Sawyer Sutton

Chris Chin

Editor-In-Chief of egmCarTech Freelance Automotive Journalist / Editor / Photographer

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