Hydrogen Price War Imminent? Hyundai Slashes 43% Off Price of Hydrogen Fuel Cell CUV in South Korea

First to market with a hydrogen fuel cell variant of its popular Tucson CUV, the Tucson FCV, South-Korean automaker Hyundai is no-longer the only hydrogen fuel cell manufacturer on the block, with competition coming from both Honda’s as-yet unnamed FCV Sedan and Toyota’s recently-launched 2015 Mirai fuel cell sedan.

And as both the hybrid and electric car revolutions have taught us, being first to market doesn’t secure a company’s place in history: being able to offer an outstanding product at the best possible price does.

Hyundai has just slashed the price of the Tucson FCV in South Korea by 43 per cent.

Hyundai has just slashed the price of the Tucson FCV in South Korea by 43 per cent.

So it’s no surprise then that Hyundai has responded to the recent launch of the Toyota Mirai fuel cell sedan in Japan to slash the price of its own fuel cell vehicle in its domestic market of South Korea.

What’s astonishing is how much that price slash is worth: a massive 43 percent reduction in price.

As WardsAuto reported on Tuesday, Hyundai has just slashed the price of its Tucson FCV in South Korea from around $144,000 U.S. to $77,000 U.S., bringing the hydrogen fuel cell car within reach of many more consumers.

Previously, Government subsidies in South Korea had lowered the sticker price from the equivalent of $144,000 U.S. to around $86,000 U.S., says WardsAuto, but the new price reduction plus generous South Korean subsidies put the net price to consumers down to $54,000.

The attentive will note that this places the Hyundai Tucson FCV a little lower in price than Toyota’s promised $57,500 sticker price for the 2016 Mirai, government subsidies pending.

The price slash -- if followed in the U.S. -- would put Hyundai's FCV on an even playing field against the 2016 Toyota Mirai

The price slash — if followed in the U.S. — would put Hyundai’s FCV on an even playing field against the 2016 Toyota Mirai

With seating for five and an EPA-approved 265 miles per fill — a figure of around 49 miles per kilogram of hydrogen — the Hyundai Tucson FCV has about the same range as Tesla’s all-electric Model S Sedan. With a little careful driving — just like an electric car — that range can be impressively extended, yet unlike an electric car the Tucson FCV needs to be refilled at a dedicated hydrogen filling station rather than a domestic wall outlet.

To combat that inconveninece, Hyundai — like Toyota behind it and Honda’s limited test-fleet of Clarity FCX cars before it — is offering customers free fuel during their ownership of the car. But while it’s possible to buy the Hyundai Tucson FCV outright in South Korea, it is only currently leased in Europe and North America.

At the time of writing, Hyundai hasn’t detailed any price reductions for the Tucson FCV in North America or in Europe, where it is sold as the iX 35 FCV. Instead, Hyundai bosses say we should expect price announcements for non-domestic markets at next month’s Geneva Motor Show. Currently, The Tucson FCV is available lease-only in North America for $499 a month with $2,999 down. In Europe, leasing prices are not publicly available.

European and U.S. pricing reductions are expected to be announced in Geneva next month.

European and U.S. pricing reductions are expected to be announced in Geneva next month.

In addition to announcing the massive price slash for its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, Hyundai also announced a massive investment totalling $165 million in funding to support automotive industry startups working with fuel cell vehicles, the development of hydrogen fuelling infrastructure and investment in local small and medium-sized businesses in the southwestern city of Gwangju, South Korea where Hyundai is centring its hydrogen fuel cell innovation efforts.

All of this is particularly costly for the automaker, especially since it admitted just last summer that the Tuscon FCV was a loss-leading compliance car.

Is Hyundai’s announcement the start of a pricing war between hydrogen fuel cell vehicle manufactures looking to win early-adopters? Will fuel cell vehicles start being priced to match other alternative fuelled vehicles like electric cars? And would you consider a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle if the price was right?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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