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Hyundai to offer Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle to LA-area retail customers in spring 2014; Honda, Toyota show latest FCV concepts targeting 2015 launch (corrected)

Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell. Click to enlarge.

At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Hyundai announced plans to offer its next-generation Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle for the US market for $499 per month, including unlimited free hydrogen refueling and At Your Service Valet Maintenance at no extra cost. Availability begins in Spring 2014 at several Southern California Hyundai dealers.

Also at the LA Auto Show, the new Honda FCEV Concept made its world debut. The concept expresses a potential styling direction for Honda’s next-generation fuel-cell vehicle anticipated to launch in the US and Japan in 2015, followed by Europe. At the Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota highlighted its own new FCV Concept with a world premiere.


Hyundai will initially offer the Tucson Fuel Cell to customers in the Los Angeles/Orange County region for $499 per month for a 36-month term, with $2,999 down. This includes unlimited free hydrogen refueling.

When we spoke to customers interesting in driving a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, many wondered what the cost of hydrogen would be. To ease those concerns as we build-out the hydrogen refueling network, we thought covering this cost for these early adopters in the monthly payment was the best approach, and consistent with other aspects of our Hyundai Assurance program. It’s our way of saying: ‘This is another thing you don’t have to worry about, we’ve got your back.

—John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America

In addition, Tucson Fuel Cell owners will enjoy all the same services of the Hyundai Equus “At Your Service” valet program. As Equus owners have enjoyed since its introduction in 2010, should a Tucson Fuel Cell require any service, a Hyundai dealer will pick up the vehicle and provide a loaner, then return their car after service to their home or business, at no charge.

Customers interested in the Tucson Fuel Cell can indicate their interest (the first step in the ordering process) beginning by visiting Hyundai.com.

The first four Hyundai dealers to offer the Tucson Fuel Cell to Southern California customers are Hardin Hyundai in Anaheim; Win Hyundai in Carson; Keyes Hyundai in Van Nuys; and Tustin Hyundai, with additional Hyundai dealers to follow. Availability of the Tucson Fuel Cell will expand to other regions of the country consistent with the accelerating deployment of hydrogen refueling stations.

To achieve societal goals of significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, more and more consumers will need to drive zero-emissions vehicles. Currently, there’s an ongoing debate about the future of the electric vehicle, which Hyundai condensed into two approaches:

  1. Store more electricity on-board using more/larger batteries

  2. Create electricity on-board with hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology

Hyundai is taking the second approach. While the battery electric vehicle has made progress in recent years, with improved affordability and energy storage capability, for most consumers, range anxiety and lengthy recharging time remain formidable obstacles, Hyundai said. In addition, affordable electric vehicle technology is best suited to smaller urban vehicles, not larger family and utility vehicles that many families require to meet all of their needs. Because of the inherent weight and cost of batteries, and the chemistry and physics that drive slow recharge times, today’s electric vehicles have practical limits for many consumers, Hyundai suggested.

Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles represent the next generation of zero-emission vehicle technology, so we’re thrilled to be a leader in offering the mass-produced, federally certified Tucson Fuel Cell to retail customers. The superior range and fast-fill refueling speed of our Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle contrast with the lower range and slow-charge characteristics of competing battery electric vehicles. We think fuel cell technology will increase the adoption rate of zero-emission vehicles, and we’ll all share the environmental benefits.

—John Krafcik

The Tucson Fuel Cell offers:

  • Driving range up to an estimated 300 miles;
  • Capable of full refueling in less than 10 minutes, similar to gasoline;
  • Minimal reduction in daily utility compared with its gasoline counterpart;
  • Instantaneous electric motor torque (221 lb-ft);
  • Minimal cold-weather effects compared with battery electric vehicles;
  • Reliability and long-term durability;
  • No moving parts within the power-generating fuel cell stack;
  • More than two million durability test miles on Hyundai’s fuel cell fleet since 2000; and
  • Extensive crash, fire and leak testing successfully completed.

Hyundai began production of the ix35 Fuel Cell (the Tucson’s counterpart in Europe) at the company’s Ulsan manufacturing plant in Korea in January 2013; the first complete car rolled off the assembly line on 26 February 2013.

The ix35 Fuel Cell—Hyundai’s third-generation fuel cell vehicle—delivers large improvements over its predecessor, including a driving range that has been extended by more than 50% and fuel efficiency gains of more than 15%.

The ix35 Fuel Cell is equipped with a 100 kW electric motor, allowing it to reach a maximum speed of 160 km/h (99 mph). Two hydrogen storage tanks, with a total capacity of 5.64 kg, enable the vehicle to travel a total of 594 km (369 miles) on a single charge, and it can reliably start in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius. The energy is stored in a 24 kWh kW lithium-ion polymer battery, jointly developed with LG Chemical.

The Tucson Fuel Cell begins mass production for the US market in February 2014 at Ulsan—the plant that also manufactures the Tucson gasoline-powered CUV. Manufacturing the Tucson Fuel Cell at the same plant allows Hyundai to leverage both the high quality and cost-efficiency of its popular gasoline-powered Tucson platform.

Click to enlarge.

According to 2013 studies on well-to-wheel greenhouse-gas emissions (GHG) by the Advanced Power and Energy Program at the University of California, Irvine, hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles have the lowest overall emission levels of all alternative fuel entries. Well-to-wheel emissions for hydrogen vehicles sourced from natural gas are lower than battery electric vehicles (based on the average carbon footprint of the entire US grid), and less than half of equivalent gasoline vehicle emissions. Hydrogen emissions sourced from biogas are a tiny fraction of equivalent gasoline vehicle emissions.

(Hyundai’s Fuel Cell prototypes have relied on hydrogen generated at the Orange County Sanitation District near its Fountain Valley headquarters, where methane from sewage is turned into hydrogen.)

Hyundai is also partnering with Enterprise Rent-A-Car to make the Tucson Fuel Cell available to consumers at select locations in the Los Angeles/Orange County region. This partnership will enable interested consumers to evaluate the Tucson Fuel Cell for their lifestyles on a multi-day basis, with rental availability also planned for Spring 2014.


The Honda FCEV Concept. Click to enlarge.

Significant technological advancements to the fuel-cell stack have yielded more than 100 kW of power output. The power density is now 3 kW/L, an increase of 60%, with the stack size reduced 33% compared to the FCX Clarity. The next-generation Honda FCEV is anticipated to deliver a driving range of more than 300 miles (483 km) with a quick refueling time of about three minutes at a pressure of 70 MPa.

The Honda FCEV Concept features sweeping character lines underscored by an ultra-aerodynamic body. The Honda FCEV Concept also delivers ample passenger space and seating for 5-passengers thanks to new powertrain packaging efficiencies.

The next generation fuel cell-electric vehicle launching in 2015 will feature the first application of a fuel-cell powertrain packaged completely in the engine room of the vehicle, allowing for efficiencies in cabin space as well as flexibility in the potential application of FC technology to multiple vehicle types in the future.

You probably know the conventional wisdom on fuel cells—that they are the technology of the future and always will be. We’re working to change that mindset. Too often talk about future timelines in 2015 and 2020 is met with skepticism, either about the technology or the commitment. So let me give you a word of advice today—don’t confuse our candor with a lack of progress. The advancement we are making is substantial, meaningful and very real.

We also acknowledge that the hydrogen refueling infrastructure needs to expand dramatically both here in California and across this nation. That’s why we were pleased when Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a provision to kick-start an expanded network for refueling. This also is why Honda is an enthusiastic participant in a federal program, H2USA.

In the meantime, the mass production fuel cell electric vehicle under development in our engineering labs will be our next significant step forward in this process. So, what you see here on stage is more than a concept car—this Honda FCEV Concept is a commitment to the future of mobility.

—Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of American Honda Motor Co.

Honda has invested nearly two decades in the development and deployment of fuel-cell technology through extensive real world testing, including the first government fleet deployment and retail customer leasing program. Honda has made significant technological advancements in fuel-cell operation in both hot and sub-freezing weather, meeting stringent emissions requirements and safety regulations since the introduction of its first generation fuel-cell vehicle, the FCX in 2002.

Honda began leasing its first-generation FCEV, the Honda FCX, in 2002 and has deployed vehicles in the US and Japan, including its successor, the FCX Clarity, which was named the 2009 World Green Car. Honda has delivered these vehicles to individual retail consumers in the US and collected valuable data concerning real-world use of fuel cell-electric vehicles and hydrogen stations.

Honda’s current fuel cell-electric vehicle, the FCX Clarity, launched in July 2008. (Earlier post.) With the V-flow fuel cell stack positioned down the center of the vehicle and the electric motor located in the front of the vehicle, Honda was able to maintain the Clarity’s futuristic styling while delivering 240 miles (386 km) of driving range.

In the effort to speed the advance of a refueling infrastructure, in May 2013, American Honda joined the public-private partnership H2USA, which brings together automakers, government agencies, hydrogen suppliers, and the hydrogen and fuel-cell industries to coordinate research and identify cost-effective solutions to deploy infrastructure that can deliver affordable, clean hydrogen fuel in the United States.

In July 2013, Honda entered into a long-term collaborative agreement with General Motors to co-develop the next-generation of fuel-cell systems and hydrogen storage technologies, aiming for the 2020 timeframe. The collaboration expects to succeed by sharing technological expertise, economies of scale and common sourcing strategies. (Earlier post.)


Toyota FCV Concept Click to enlarge.

The Toyota FCV Concept is a practical concept of the fuel cell vehicle Toyota plans to launch around 2015 as a pioneer in the development of hydrogen-powered vehicles. The vehicle has a driving range of at least 500 km (311 miles) and refueling times as low as three minutes.

With Toyota’s proprietary small, light-weight FC Stack and two 70 MPa high-pressure hydrogen tanks placed beneath the specially designed body, the Toyota FCV Concept can accommodate up to four occupants.

The Toyota FC Stack has a power output density of 3 kW/L, more than twice that of the current “Toyota FCHV-adv” FC Stack, and an output of at least 100 kW. In addition, the FC system is equipped with Toyota’s high-efficiency boost converter. Increasing the voltage has made it possible to reduce the size of the motor and the number of fuel cells, leading to a smaller system offering enhanced performance at reduced cost.

Fully fueled, the vehicle can provide enough electricity to meet the daily needs of an average Japanese home (10 kWh) for more than one week.



BW...both H2 production and EV batteries will be improved and cost less per unit of energy than today.

Which one will be improved the fastest? It will depend how much funds and energy is dedicated to each. Batteries may be getting more now but the ratio may change when extended range FCEVs hit the roads next year.

Both technologies may have a bright future?

Roger Pham


Where did you get the number of 3x more energy consumption in FCV? It takes ~50 kWh to make 1 kg of H2 having 33 kWh, so the ratio is 1.5:1. It takes some energy to compress the H2, but this mechanical energy is largely recuperable, especially when the waste heat of the FC stack is added to the expanding H2 during adiabatic cooling process in expansion. A turbine wheel can be used to recoup the energy when the H2 expands and turn this energy to electricity. FCV has efficiency of 60%-70%, but in winters, has efficiency of 90-95% when waste heat is utilized.

RE goes straight to electrolyzer with very little loss. RE has to thru the grid and suffer from losses in the grid (up transformer and down transformer etc.) to get to charging socket, then losses in the charging system, so the lost is higher, perhaps 10-15%. BEV has efficiency of 70-80%. Many Wind turbines produces too much electricity at time and has to be "curtailed" output-wise in order to avoid blowing out the grid...This adds to inefficiency. This narrows down the efficiency gap between FCV and to BEV to perhaps 1.3:1.

The cost of RE at the electrolyzer is little over 1/2 the cost of RE at the grid, due the expenses of transmission cost, grid-compatible inverters, distribution cost including up tranformer and down transformer and line maintenance and backup generation means standby for RE.

So, when H2-FCV to BEV has ratio of 1.3:1 for energy consumption, but H2 receives RE at ~1/2 the cost of RE at the grid for charging BEV, guess which vehicle has lower energy cost to operate?

Bob Wallace

I'm working from from an analysis performed by fuel cell expert Ulf Bossel.


Starting with 100 kWh of electricity.

1. A 5% loss converting AC to DC. 95kWh remaining.

2. A 25% loss during electrolysis. (You claim a 26% loss.) 71 kWh remaining.

3. A 10% loss during compression. (How would we store heat in our FCEVs to be used later?)

4. A 20% loss due to transport/transfer. 57 kWh remaining.

5. A 50% loss in fuel cell. 26 kWh remaining.

6. A 10% vehicle loss. 23 kWh remaining.

For an EV starting with 100 kWh.

1. A 10% grid loss. (Interesting grid loss wasn't charged to the FCEV.) 90 kWh remaining.

2. A 15% loss going from AC -> DC to battery charge. 77 kWh remaining.

3. A 10% vehicle loss. 69 kWh remaining.

69/23 = 3.

Let me post this much before it gets lost....

Bob Wallace

You are now arguing that surplus wind generation is bad for EVs. Earlier you were arguing that surplus wind generation was good for FCEVs. You can't have it both ways.

Wind curtailment happens for two reasons. First is a lack of demand. Both EVs and H2 crackers would create more demand. EVs would be better positioned to take advantage of output peaks as they don't need to charge 24/7.

The second reason for curtailment is transmission limitations. Neither EVs or H2 crackers solve that (very small) problem.

Storing compression heat and reusing it in a stationary hydrogen storage plant doing relatively short cycles might be feasible but not so likely in a vehicle.

Grid loss in the US is around 7%. Bossel's analysis favors FCEVs by both not charging them with transmission loss and overcharging EVs.

Both EVs and hydrogen electrolyzers would suffer from transmission loss. It might be possible to position electrolyzers where the loss would be less, but not zero.

Electrolyzers might get wholesale electricity prices but EVs are likely to get fairly cheap off-peak prices, especially if they allow utilities to control time of charge (dispatchable load has value).

Electrolyzers will have to pay for electricity 24 hours per day. Average 24 hour wholesale prices are not very different from off-peak retail prices.

Again, EVs are 3x more efficient from grid to kinetic energy than are FCEVs. Then we have to add in the cost of hydrogen infrastructure. H2 electrolyzers might have slightly cheaper electricity prices.

That's my basis for a 3x - 5+x higher cost per mile to fuel a FCEV.

Roger Pham

That info from Dr. Bossel was published in 2006 that I've been debunking since 2007 and onward. Look for many of my postings in GCC since 2007 regarding this issue, using Google Search.

From solar PV feeding directly to electrolyzers nearby, there is no loss from AC to DC conversion. No loss in transmission due to very close distance. PV cells output are serially connected to obtain voltages of hundeds of volts for transmission via distances of hundreds of yards with negligible loss. Then, the electrolyzers are connected serially to bring down the voltage of each cell to desirable level. The higher voltage output of PV cells, the more electrolyzer cells are in series in order to maintain fairly constant voltage in each cell, WITHOUT any loss in power conversion, NOR any requirement of expensive DC to DC voltage conversion circuitry. For this reason, solar PV to electrolyzer would cost about 1/2 of that of solar PV to the grid.

Compression heat loss will not be stored. However, the waste heat from FC output can be used to reheat the compressed H2 prior to expansion to reclaim most of the energy loss in compression.

With an extended H2 piping system for storage and nearby electrolyzers, the transportation loss of H2 will be negligible.

Efficiency of FC has improved since 2006.

Dr. Bossel used the worse way to produce and transport H2, using older technology FC. Perhaps he has other agenda beside the promotion of H2-FC.

Roger Pham

Another thing, Bob, electrolyzer cost should be on par with FC per kW of power. When FC costs ~$50/kW, electrolyzer costs around ~$50-100/kW, depending on construction and production volume. This, in comparison to solar PV's installed cost of $1,000-2,000/kW, or wind turbine at ~$3,000-$4,000/kW. The much lower cost (1/10 to 1/40th) per kW for electrolyzers means that it would be economical to build the same electrolyzer capacity as name-plate capacity of solar or wind in the rare case of when all the wind turbines and all the solar PV's are producing maximum power at the same time.

Of course, you know well that solar PV has capacity factor of only 10-25%, and wind 25-50% only, so the majority of the time, the electrolyzers are sitting idle. But, since they are much cheaper per kW than both solar and wind, it makes economic sense to build enough of them to avoid wasting energy.

Each electrolyzer has definite life cycle before wearing out, like batteries and FC. This means that either you replace them 4x more often if used 24/7, or replacing them 4x less often if used only 25% of the time, the cost of overbuilding electrolyzers is quite negligible, given the low interest rates at this time.

As E-P pointed out, there are many nights or cloudy days in which a large swath of the continent has very little wind, and of course little to no sun. Backup power by NG peaking plants to the full grid electricity demand is required. This is expensive and contributes to the cost of grid RE.

H2 made from low-cost RE can be used in home-based FC to provide backup power for an all-RE grid. Using water heater of good insulation, the waste heat of the FC for CHP can be used to heat water for bathing and laundry and cleaning, thus increase the overall efficiency of H2 utilization significantly. Sundown time is when people go home from work and start cooking, cleaning and washing and bathing before bed. Sundown time is when there is no solar PV output, and when wind is not enough, which is often the case at sunset and a few hours afterward, then the FC's will crank up to generate electricity for the grid and hot water for local use.

In winters, solar energy will be least available, while energy demand in the form of heat and lighting will be the most. Perfect for local CHP-FC using H2 stored from other seasons.

Notice that if your BEV is charged from the power generated by the local FC's, your efficiency will be lower than that of a FCV because of losses in the grid transmission and conversion.

Bob Wallace

"From solar PV feeding directly to electrolyzers nearby, there is no loss from AC to DC conversion. No loss in transmission due to very close distance. PV cells output are serially connected to obtain voltages of hundeds of volts for transmission via distances of hundreds of yards with negligible loss."

Fine. Now you're running your electrolyzers 4 to 5 hours a day. That means that you have to build about 5x to 6x as many as running them 24 hours per day.

But how about we stick with efficiency for the moment.

Can you show me somewhere where waste heat from the fuel cell was used to heat the H2? I'd like to see what sort of efficiency levels they measured.

If you think Bossel's numbers are out of date then please furnish sources for better numbers.

Roger Pham

The idea of recuperation of pressure energy of H2 was mine. So is the idea of using waste heat from the FC to heat up the H2 prior to expansion in a series of microturbines. High-temp FC like the type that VW is using would be ideal. The microturbines have foil bearing and mechanically linked to microgenerators. All are hermetically sealed and only electrical wires protrude from the energy recuperation system.

The source for better numbers of the H2 economy that I mentioned to you came from my own idea and calculation from well-known data. I tend to figure things out on my own instead of relying on supposed-authorities who may have motive to distort the truth to support their own agenda. BTW, Nov 22 marks 50th anniversary of an extremely important event in USA's history...the day the USA was hi-jacked by thugs in highest postions of power, and has been going downhill ever since that day, with wars after wars killing millions of innocent people world-wide, while running huge budget deficits and job outsourcing to line the pockets of a few...Do you believe in the Warren Commission's report, Bob?

Bob Wallace

OK, got it Roger.

You'll have to excuse me if I don't take your thoughts as proven facts. I'm going to stick with what has been demonstrated. I've seen too many ideas that sound good fall apart when tested.

If you find, for example, some data that shows we can generate H2 from water with less than a 25% energy loss or turn that H2 back into electricity in a fuel cell with less than a 50% energy loss then let's return to this issue and recalculate the "3x more energy consumption in FCV" issue and recalculate.

For now I'm going to stick with the facts at hand. The data right now says that someone driving a H2 FCEV would have to purchase 3x as much electricity per mile as someone driving a BEV.

That, alone, would make driving a FCEV 3x more expensive than driving a BEV. And then when one adds in the H2 infrastructure the price difference moves into the 4x to 5+x range.

Roger Pham

For commercial electrolyzers, the efficiency is 70.9 when AC current is rectified into DC but the voltage fluctuation is not tightly controlled, as in current practice. However, when the current is carefully controlled using switching power transistor to ensure constant voltage, efficiency of 77.6 % is achieved. This gain in efficiency is at a significant cost of power electronics, hence not done.
See : http://www.electrochemsci.org/papers/vol7/7043314.pdf
on pages 3323-3324.
As you know, using DC current directly from solar PV is a constant voltage source, hence no expensive power electronics required.

Regarding the efficiency of FC, please look at the table "Comparison of Fuel Cells" from the middle of this page:
Efficiencies of FC of various types are around 60%, according to the government (DOE)

However, please note that the theoretical efficiency of FC is up to 83%, and that Honda's FC in the Honda FCX Clarity achieved 70% efficiency when Honda listed the tank-to-wheel efficiency of the FCX Clarity to be 60%.

From those referenced data, perhaps you can now recalculate the relative efficiencies of BEV's vs FCV's to see what the real efficiency ratio between BEV and FCV to be. Don't take anyone's words for it, do your own calculation. Of course, in a BEV, you must factor in the losses in transmission thru the grid, thru the charging system, and in the battery's resistance, etc.

Cost-wise, please keep in mind that the RE that goes into an electrolyzer without significant power electronics will cost a lot less than the RE that is obtained from the grid, after going thru all the powerlines and transformers and substations and cost of on-call backup generators and cost of load balancing and power dumping during RE power excess of demand, or cost of grid- storage battery to absorb RE power excess, or grid power leveling.


Electrolyzing cost using ultra cheap ($0.02/kWh) clean surplus electricity would favor extended range FCEVs and would be another ball game?

Of course, the same clean electricity will soon be available at lower cost ($0.04/kWh) for overnight home charging of BEVs. However, using BEVs (even Tesla Model S-85) for long trips is more of a challenge than extended range very quick charge FCEVs?

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