Yesterday, South Korean automaker Hyundai celebrated delivering fifty cars to customers across Europe by publishing an official press release on its global news website. And no, that’s not a typo.
You see, while most automakers would consider volumes of just fifty vehicles something of a failure, these particular vehicles are all examples of the ix 35 hydrogen fuel cell crossover SUV, a vehicle which to date hasn’t exactly been rushing off dealer lots thanks to limited availability.
Sold in the U.S. as the Hyundai Tucson FCV, this limited-production vehicle combines a 100 kilowatt electric motor with a 100 kilowatt proton-exchange membrane fuel cell stack, 0.95 kWh lithium-polymer traction battery, and a 12.4 pound (5.63 kg) hydrogen fuel cell tank capable of storing 37 U.S. gallons (140 litres) of compressed hydrogen.
That, according to the U.S. EPA, translates to a real-world driving range of 265 miles per fill, while the overly-optimistic NEDC range test in Europe rates the same vehicle as having a range of 600 km (373 miles) per fill.
Why such celebration for so few cars? Hyundai says the fifty new iX35 FCVx to make landfall in Europe means that it has now delivered more than 250 hydrogen fuel cell electric cars in Europe, more than any other manufacturer combined. Destined for both private and corporate customers — many of whom have chosen to take advantage of incredible FCV incentives from a Europe-wide initiative program that reduce the effective purchase price of the iX35 by a massive €21,224 ($23,078) –the iX35 is experiencing a noticeable rise in demand.
The program, part of the Hydrogen For Innovative Vehicles (HyFIVE) program, was initially charged with deploying 110 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles across Europe, but has already exceeded its goals by a substantial amount.
Looking forward, Hyundai says it expects demand to continue to rise as more and more hydrogen filling stations are commissioned across the 13 key market areas where its fuel cell crossover is sold.
Unlike Toyota’s 2016 Mirai fuel cell sedan — a car which has just gone on sale in key markets across Europe — the Hyundai iX35 FCV features seating for five, as well as a reasonably cavernous load bay. While luggage space is diminished slightly over the gasoline vehicle on which it is based (due to the fuel tank under the load bay floor), the Hyundai iX35 looks and feels just like any other SUV on the market today.
As for driving? While we were lucky enough to get behind the wheel earlier this fall, we weren’t able to put the iX35 FCV through its paces due to our drive taking place in central London as part of a massive publicity push being undertaken by Hyundai to promote its first production fuel cell car.
Looking at Hyundai’s figures, it is fair to acknowledge that Hyundai can now lay claim to the highest number of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in Europe (and possibly around the world). But with just 250 vehicles across the entire EU, it’s still a long way from the monthly thousands or tens of thousands of cars it needs in order to claim fuel cell cars are mainstream vehicles.
And in order to do that (as we’ve said plenty of times before) hydrogen refuelling infrastructure needs some serious improvement.
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