In a move that makes it the first automaker in Europe to offer private customers the chance to own a hydrogen fuel cell car, South Korean automaker Hyundai has officially priced the 2015 Hyundai ix35 hydrogen fuel cell crossover SUV — known in the U.S. as the Hyundai Tucson FCV — at £67,995 in the UK.
That places the first commercially-available fuel cell car in Europe well out of the price range of most customers, but add in nearly £15,000 per car of purchase grants from a pro-hydrogen European initiative, and the price to consumers drops to £53,105.
While that’s still expensive for a first-generation, early-adopter vehicle, we note its post-incentive pricing should place the Hyundai ix35 in a strong market position against the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell sedan, which is due to go on sale in both the U.S. and Europe later this year. In the UK, the MSRP of Toyota’s limited-production fuel cell car is expected to weigh in at around £60,000.
Those massive purchase grants — far higher than any electric car purchase grants we’ve seen, come from Hydrogen For Innovative Vehicles (HyFive): a European project including fifteen different partner firms who will assist in the deployment of 110 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles across Europe in the coming months. Supported by the five major automakers working on hydrogen fuel cell technology — Daimler, Hyundai, Honda, BMW and Toyota — HyFive is also charged with installing clusters of hydrogen refuelling stations in three different parts of Europe to make hydrogen fuel cell vehicles a practical option for both corporate and private customers.
The Hyundai ix35/Tuscon FC is based on Hyundai’s gasoline-powered crossover SUV of the same name, with customised floor pans designed to accommodate two compressed hydrogen fuel tanks. Under the hood, there’s a 100-kilowatt electric motor powered by a 100 kilowatt proton exchange membrane hydrogen fuel cell. There’s also a small 0.95 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack capable of providing up to 24 kilowatts of instantaneous power when required, allowing the ix35 FCV to operate on battery power at low speeds where operating the fuel cell stack would prove too inefficient.
On the NEDC test cycle, Hyundai quotes a range of 369 miles per fill of its combined 5.84 kilogram (144 litre) capacity of its twin hydrogen fuel tanks, while 0-62 mph takes 12.5 seconds. In the U.S., the same vehicle is rated as having an EPA-approved 265 miles per fill, at a combined fuel efficiency of 50 miles per gallon equivalent. Since one U.S. gallon of gasoline and one kilogram of fuel have about the same energy density, that translates to a range of 50 miles per kilogram of hydrogen.
Like Toyota, Hyundai has spent many years developing hydrogen fuel cell technology in an attempt to make the cost more affordable for everyone. While the Hyundai ix35/Tuscon FCV is the firm’s first commercially-available hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, Hyundai says the car uses fourth-generation technology and is more than 15 percent more fuel efficient than Hyundai’s third-generation test vehicles.
Although Hyundai is welcoming immediate orders from both private and corporate buyers, we should note that anyone considering one should first ensure that there’s sufficient refuelling nearby. As this map shows, those who live in the south of England in or around London may find it possible to own and operate a hydrogen fuel cell car without getting significant range anxiety, but those living further north may find it impractical at this time.
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