RAC Cars News


Hyundai Banking On Hydrogen Fuel Technology

By raccars Published

Hyundai has joined forces with hydrogen infrastructure partners and the Greater London Authority, to develop a network of hydrogen refilling stations. The first units will be installed in London with others appearing across the country presently. It is hoped the scheme will help to make hydrogen a realistic alternative to fossil fuel and electric powered cars within the next decade.

The first stage of the plan will see six filling stations up and running in London in 2015, after which the scheme will extend nationwide. The first stations will be standalone units but as the scheme grows, it is hoped that hydrogen pumps will be made available in standard filling stations. Supermarkets, Sainsbury's and Morrisons, have both joined the partnership and expressed interest in supporting the scheme on their forecourts.

Hyundai has already committed to building 1,000 of its ix35 FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle) by 2015, to be leased to businesses in the capital. Proponents of hydrogen technology applaud its three minute refuelling time, which gives a range equivalent to the average petrol or diesel vehicle, without the emissions, with only water emanating from the exhaust.

FCEVs give a similar driving experience to battery powered electric vehicles and are practically silent. There is also a similar single speed transmission with a putative gear lever to allow the driver to engage the 'Drive' function. To fill up the ix35 would cost about £30-£40, for which you get about a 410 mile range, with hydrogen fuel costs expected to start in the region of £6-£8 per kg.

However, FCEVs have high production costs, which have held them back compared to the cheaper to build EV. For this reason, the ix35 will initially be available strictly on a leasehold basis to fleet buyers only. FCEVs are not likely to be a realistic choice for private buyers for at least ten years yet.

Hydrogen filling infrastructure is similarly complex and costly, but partnerships are investigating a variety of delivery modes, with the aim of supplying up to 65 filling stations in the UK within the next few years.

Hyundai hopes that with increasing investment and development in the emerging technology, economies of scale mean costs of supply infrastructure, vehicle and fuel production will reduce, to make hydrogen cars an affordable and practical alternative to traditional combustion engines and battery powered cars and it is planning to lead the field.

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