Hyundai expects to deliver the first Tucson Fuel Cell to a "small group" of customers in the US within 60 days, O'Brien said. As we learned last year, Hyundai will lease the CUV for $499 a month (and $2,999 down) for 36 months. That price includes as much hydrogen refueling as you like, plus Hyundai's Valet Maintenance.
"The response surprised even us"
The Tucson Fuel Cell is already in production and available in other markets (as the ix35 Fuel Cell), following 16 years of development and what O'Brien said were "hundreds of millions of dollars" spent on R&D. Hyundai has tested its fuel cell cars for over 2.4 million miles, including extreme heat, cold and altitude tests (but it hasn't shot a bullet into the tank a la Toyota). Hydrogen cars are "as clean and by some measures cleaner than today's EVs" but are more practical, with longer range and shorter refueling times, O'Brien said in DC. There's more in the press release below.
$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
WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Hyundai is witnessing exceptionally strong consumer interest in its next-generation Tucson Fuel Cell CUV, with more than 88,000 unique visitors to its Hyundai.com fuel cell microsite since the program's November introduction. Consumers selected for the program can drive the Tucson Fuel Cell for just $499 per month, which includes 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 federally-certified hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in their driveways, with availability beginning in late Spring 2014 at select Southern California Hyundai dealers.
"We're experiencing strong consumer interest to drive the Tucson Fuel Cell CUV," said Michael O'Brien, vice president, corporate and product planning, Hyundai Motor America. "Hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles represent the next generation of zero-emission vehicle technology, and we intend to be a leader in offering the mass-produced, federally-certified Tucson Fuel Cell to retail customers. The range and refueling speed of our Tucson Fuel Cell is superior to the range and charging limitations of competing battery electric vehicles. Even more, fuel cell technology is sure to increase the adoption rate of zero-emission vehicles, and everyone will receive the environmental benefits."
FUEL CELL PRICING AND BENEFITS
The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell will initially be offered on a limited basis to customers in the Los Angeles/Orange County area for $499 per month for a 36-month term, with a $2,999 down payment. 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, some wondered what the cost of hydrogen would actually be," said O'Brien. "To ease those concerns, we thought that covering this cost for early adopters in the monthly payment was the best approach, and consistent with our Hyundai Assurance program. It's yet another way of saying: 'This is another thing you don't have to worry about, at Hyundai, we've got your back.'"
In addition, Tucson Fuel Cell lessees 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 loan vehicle, then return the customer's 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 Hyundai dealers to offer the Tucson Fuel Cell to Southern California customers are Hardin Hyundai in Anaheim, Win Hyundai in Carson and Tustin Hyundai, with additional Hyundai dealers to follow. Availability of the Tucson Fuel Cell will expand to other regions 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:
Store more electricity on-board using more/larger batteries
Create electricity on-board with hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology
Developed more than 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 comparable well-to-wheel emissions as 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 of 250-300 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
* Estimated driving range based on internal tests; EPA ratings to be determined by launch
The Tucson Fuel Cell begins production for the U.S. market in April 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 various 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 H2 USA.
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 comparable to 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 hydrogen ions, electrons and oxygen, creating H2O and heat
A single fuel cell produces one volt; "stacking" meets voltage requirements
ENTERPRISE RENT-A-CAR 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 area, with availability planned for Spring 2014.
HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA
Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, 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.