Obama FY 2012 budget proposes big boost for EVs and EV technology, cuts for hydrogen
Ian Clifford resigns as CEO of ZENN

Hyundai introduces 3rd generation Tucson ix hydrogen fuel cell vehicle; significant increase in range and fuel efficiency

Hyundai Motor America has introduced its next-generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the Tucson ix Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV). The Tucson ix FCEV made its US public debut at Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy 2011 in Washington, DC.

Hyundai’s third-generation FCEV is equipped with its newest 100 kW fuel cell system and two hydrogen storage cylinders (700 bar) to deliver a substantial improvement in fuel efficiency. The Tucson ix FCEV can travel more than 400 miles (644 km) on a single fueling, a 76% improvement over its predecessor, and a range equal to a gasoline-powered car.

It achieves gasoline equivalent fuel efficiency of more than 70 mpg US (3.36 L/100km), a 15% improvement over the previous version. It can also start in temperatures as low as -25 ° C.

In addition to improving the fuel economy and range of the powertrain, Hyundai has also created a more compact power source for the Tucson ix FCEV. Overall volume of the fuel cell system was downsized by 20% compared to the previous system via modularization of bulky parts in the fuel cell system including fuel cell stack, balance of plant (BOP), inverter and high voltage junction box.

Hyundai will test about 50 new Tucson ix FCEVs throughout 2011 as part of the second phase of the Korean Government Validation Program. Hyundai plans to make a limited supply of the Tucson ix FCEV in 2012 and begin mass production in 2015.

Comparison of new Tucson ix FCEV (3rd generation) and Tucson FCEV (2nd generation
ClassificationTucson ix FCEVTucson FCEV
Specifications Fuel Cell Stack 100 kW 100 kW
Drive system 100 kW 100 kW
Energy storage system 21 kW (battery) 100 kW (supercapacitor)
Hydrogen storage 700 bar
5.6 kg H2
350 bar
3.5 kg H2
Performance Max. speed 100 mph
161 km/h
100 mph
161 km/h
Gasoline equiv. fuel economy 72 mpg US
3.36 L/100km
63 mpg US
3.73 L/100km
Max range per single refueling 403 mi
649 mi
230 mi
370 mi

The Tucson ix FCEV shows that Hyundai is taking a multi-faceted approach to improving fuel economy, developing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles along with its patented Blue Drive technology. Hyundai is committed to developing a diverse portfolio of fuel efficient options for our customers, as seen with our Sonata Hybrid, turbocharged Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engine and the all-new 1.8-liter Nu engine delivering 40 mpg highway for the Elantra. The introduction of the new FCEV is just another example of all the things we’re doing to increase the ecological friendliness and the fuel economy of our products.

—John Juriga, Powertrain Director at Hyundai Kia America Technical Center, Inc.



'The cost of a hydrogen-fueled 80-kWe fuel cell power system projected to high volume production (500,000 units/year) has been estimated to be $51/kW (assuming 2010 technology), as shown in Figure 2.2 Cost reduction was a result of simplified architecture and reduction in stack component costs through ongoing R&D efforts. The cost of the fuel cell stack has been estimated to be $25/kW (assuming 2010 technology).'


This is a DOE projection, and the critical words here is that it is not based on any new advance in technology, but simply on going to mass production with existing technology.
That means that instead of a guess based on dubious assumptions, this is a normal cost and works accounting exercise, the sort of thing that any CEO might give his cost department and not expect them to be too far out.

'Electrolysis: Giner Electrochemical Systems reduced hydrogen embrittlement in titanium/carbon cell-separators, demonstrated enhanced dimensionally stable membrane (DSMTM) performance, and projected a decrease in overall capital cost of their electrolyzer stack from >$2,500/kW in 2001 to $463/kW in 2010. In addition, NREL completed an independent review of wind electrolysis, estimating the levelized cost range for state-of-the-art electrolysis to be $4.90–$5.70 per gallon gasoline equivalent (gge) of hydrogen for forecourt refueling stations (including compression, storage and dispensing), and $2.70–3.50/gge for central electrolysis operations (at the plant gate, excluding all delivery and dispensing costs).'

Put that together with the consumption figures given for the Hyundai with a gallon of petrol around equal to 1kg of hydrogen and clearly you have the makings of a viable transport system.

As for hydrogen delivery, the same pipes which take natural gas gas have an admixture of up to 12% hydrogen, to be separated at the garage, as they are going to do in Hawaii:


It is as good as Toyota FCHV-adv announced 3 years ago. Honda, Toyota and Hyundai are almost ready for $50k FCHV prime time.


So 72 miles per kg H2, or 1.2 miles per kWh primary electricity if making the H2 by electrolysis.

BEVs use about 3-4x less electricity per mile.


For over 40 years, fuel cell autos have been tax-dollar grant financed and just "five years away."

Now they are four years away.

We already live in "The Hydrogen Initiative Age" - just ask the Decider.


PHEVs with ICE or Hydrogen range extender and small batteries...or...BEVs with large batteries may co-exist. The hydrogen approach may be the best solutions for large long haul trucks, buses, locomotives and similar large vehicles. BEVs with more efficient high capacity batteries may be the best solution for cars and light trucks.


You are assuming a 100% efficient grid. The actual average efficiency of the grid is around 35% or so, so the efficiency of this hydrogen propelled car and a battery one are near enough to make no difference on that basis.
That does not include compression losses and so on for the hydrogen, but OTOH the heat of the fuel cell means that you make make efficiency gains on heating etc by using it.
Sure, the grid efficiency can be improved, but there is nothing to say you can't improve the efficiency of making hydrogen and the efficiency of the fuel stack in using it.



1] Seeing as how clett proposed using electricity to make the H2 by electrolysis any inefficiency in the grid should, in this case, be added to the inefficiency of the FCHV, not used to exalt it.

2] A grid efficiency of 35%? Where did you get that? How far upsream did you have to go, the power planet? If you're going to go that far let's put the FCHV up to the same measure and do a well-to-wheels comparison?

3] We're talking about cars here. Can you use the heat of the FC to make the car go farther? How much "efficiency gains on heating" is realistic?


I wonder if they're intending to sell the vehicle in the US or are they dangling the carrot in front of us?


clett: Where do you have e-power grids at 35% efficiency. Ours runs at an average of 93% efficiency. Of course, long distances use 765 KV lines and even local distribution lines are using higher voltages then before.

One problem remains, i.e. our 115/230 VAC in house systems. Fortunately, we use 230 VAC for all high consumption units such as heating and air conditioning, cooking stoves, water heaters etc. PHEVs and BEVs should be restricted to 230 VAC domestic chargers to reduce losses.

EU's 220/380 VAC systems are more efficient.


@al Vin,
You are correct, I had not paid close enough attention to exactly what Clett was saying.
Hydrogen is presently produced almost exclusively by reforming natural gas, and it is the round trip efficiency of that including reforming and compression which is in a similar ball park to the grid.
The grid I am taking to be the average from the current grid including transmission losses, not best practise.

The DOE report I referenced envisages using wind, presumably wind which would otherwise be not put to use, so in an energetic use it may be said to be 'free', although of course it would cost money to harvest it and convert it.

The heat I referred to would not be used to power the vehicle, but to provide heat for occupants in cold weather, which in fuel cell cars like in ICE ones is a by-product of the power pack/engine, but in battery cars is a drain on the battery reducing range.
That does not help in hot weather of course.


Has the price per vehicle dippped to below $500,000 US dollars yet? And we still worry if the Leaf and Volt are overpriced.

Has the price per vehiucle dipped below $500,000 USD yet?


@HarveyD, it wasn't me who suggested the grid was only 35% efficient! For high voltage DC, it's only a 3% loss per 1,000 km.

Incidentally, if the plan is to get the H2 from reformed natural gas, it is still much more efficient just to use the compressed natural gas directly in an ICE/hybrid (and cheaper).


And maybe cleaner too;


All the players are definetly gearing up for an interesting decade ahead.


Davemart, You keep mentioning 35% efficiency and then talking about transmission losses in the same sentence.

Transmission losses are only about 7% on average so I assume you're talking about a worst case scenario? For example, running an old, very inefficient coal fired plant and then including the transmission losses as well?

Just trying to understand what you are comparing to.


@clett: Sorry, it was somebody else. I agree with you on 7% and even less with very high voltage DC lines. We had to go to 765,000 VAC to reduce loss on very long distance and reduce cost (over DC lines network)


If you run a range of numbers for best case / worst case comparing EV, FC and hybrids you get roughly the following ranges

Best Case - CCGT (60%), minimal transmission losses (95), charging losses, (95) ~50%
Worst Case - OCGT, and higher charging, transmission losses ~30%

Best case - Diesel / hybrid ~ 40%
Worst case - Petrol - 4WD ~ 15%

Best case - Efficient reforming, low compression losses, efficienct fuel cell ~40%
Worst case - Electrolyis (CCGT) compression etc ~20%

The comments to this entry are closed.