Do you believe in electric cars? I certainly do. They’ve already shown great potential with more to come, which brings so many people to talk about them. It’s hard to think of a newspaper that hasn’t published a single article about electric cars in 2010. But electric cars are not alone on the green transportation scene, fuel cell cars are right behind them.
Fuel cell cars are electric cars in fact, with a fuel cell instead of a battery, and some people think that fuel cell cars are better, with good reasons. One is that electric cars take hours to recharge whereas fuel cell cars run on hydrogen, and filling the tank takes the same time as a car with gasoline. Second, you can go much further. Range is the same as a gasoline car, and that will matter a lot to many! So it’s hard to predict the future, but my guess is that if battery-powered electric cars were to fail somehow, somewhere, fuel cell cars would quickly take their place.
Hyundai will be ready. I had seen their last concept last March in Geneva, with a third generation fuel cell, here comes the running model. On a Tucson’s platform (sold as an ix35 in Europe), it looks production-ready. A fleet of 48 will used in various tests this year in South Korea. A 5-seater vehicle, it has a comfortable range of 400-miles. Much more than batteries could give in a vehicle this size. The electric motor makes 100-kW, and so does the fuel cell, which gets its energy from a 5.6-kg hydrogen tank (12.36-pounds). That is fabulously efficient, 30 miles per pound of hydrogen!
Some private customers will get their hands on one in 2012, and Hyundai expects to mass-produce it in 2015.