Hyundai delivers keys to first Tucson Fuel Cell customer; leasing for $499/mo, with unlimited free fueling; first drive
|First customer Tim Bush and family (center), with John Patterson (left) and Dave Zuchowski, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America (right). Click to enlarge.
In an event combining a first-customer ceremony and a media drive, Tustin (California) Hyundai’s Dealer Principal, John Patterson, handed over the keys to Hyundai’s first mass-produced Tucson Fuel Cell crossover (earlier post) to Timothy Bush, the first Hyundai Fuel Cell customer, with Hyundai executives in attendance.
Hyundai thus is first out the gate with the next wave of “mass-produced” fuel cell vehicles. In this context, “mass-produced” means that the fuel cell vehicle is assembled on the same line at Ulsan, Korea, as the conventional Tucson, rather than hand-assembled. Volumes will initially be low: in the hundreds, said Gil Castillo, senior US group manager for Hyundai’s alternative vehicle program.
Hyundai is initially offering the Tucson Fuel Cell to customers in the Los Angeles/Orange County region for a 36-month term at $499 per month, with $2,999 down. This includes unlimited free hydrogen refueling in the area, and free maintenance. The fuel cell vehicle currently is available at three southern California Hyundai dealers: Win Hyundai in Carson; Tustin Hyundai; and Hardin Hyundai in Anaheim.
When we spoke with customers about fuel cell vehicles, many wondered about the cost of hydrogen. To ease those concerns as the hydrogen refueling network builds out, we decided that covering this cost for these early adopters was appropriate, and consistent with how we like to treat our customers.—Dave Zuchowski, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America
In addition, Tucson Fuel Cell owners will enjoy similar services enjoyed by Hyundai Equus owners, such as At Your Service Valet Maintenance at no extra cost. 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 loan vehicle, then return the 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) by visiting Hyundai.com. Availability of the Tucson Fuel Cell will expand to other regions consistent with the accelerating deployment of hydrogen refueling stations.
Hyundai’s position on fuel cell vehicles is that they alleviate the limitations of traditional battery-electric vehicles with respect to range and refueling (recharging) time. (Within the group, Kia, which is set up in North America as a competitor to Hyundai, is focusing on battery-electric vehicles. There will be no Kia analog to the Tucson Fuel Cell, said Castillo.)
|Hyundai cites a study from the University of California, Irvine Advanced Power and Energy Program’s 2013 study showing fuel cell vehicle comparable—or lower—total well-to-wheel emissions to a battery electric vehicle, given US and California grid averages and different hydrogen production pathways. Source: UC Irvine APEP. Click to enlarge.
Tucson Fuel Cell. The Tucson Fuel Cell began mass production for the US market in April 2014 at the Ulsan, Korea assembly plant that also manufactures the Tucson gasoline-powered CUV. Hyundai began production of the ix35 Fuel Cell (the Tucson’s counterpart in Europe) at Ulsan in January 2013; the first complete car rolled off the assembly line on 26 February 2013.
|The fuel cell stack and BOP, power electronics and electric drive motor (not seen) under the hood. Click to enlarge.
The Tucson Fuel Cell is equipped with a Hyundai’s latest 100 kW fuel cell stack, coupled to a 100 kW, 221 lb-ft (300 N·m) electric induction motor, allowing it to reach a maximum speed 100 mph. A 0.95 kWh, 24 kW Li-ion battery pack (the same as in the Sonata hybrid) provides energy storage from regeneration.
The battery, says Castillo, kicks in in two main scenarios: first, under aggressive acceleration, to boost the output form the fuel cell; second, at lower speeds, where the fuel cell stack is less efficient. Although the battery pack is the same as in the Sonata, the management and control software is new, and matched to the power control unit that manages the overall fuel cell system.
The fuel cell vehicle features two Type 3 hydrogen storage tanks, with a total capacity of 5.64 kg at 700 bar (10,000 psi).
The front-wheel drive Tucson Fuel Cell offers a driving range of 265 miles (426 km), with combined city/highway fuel economy of 50 mpge (4.7 l/100 km equivalent) (49 mpge city, 51 mpge highway) and a full refueling time (700 bar) of less than 10 minutes. The 50 mpge combined fuel economy is twice that of the mpg rating of the conventional Tucson.
The Tucson Fuel Cell has passed numerous on-road tests conducted over an accumulated distance of 2 million miles (3.2 million km).
First drive. The Tucson fuel cell is heavier than its conventional sibling: 4,101 lbs (1,860 kg) curb weight, 4,960 lbs (2,250 kg) GVWR vs. a curb weight as low as 3,232 lbs (1,466 kg) for the 2014 Tucson GLS or 3,294 lbs (1,494 kg). Although the fuel cell stack and balance of plant (BOP) is about the same weight of the displaced internal combustion engine, Castillo said, the battery and the storage tanks themselves add to the weight of the vehicle.
Acceleration is a stately 12.5 seconds for 0-60. However, the fuel cell vehicle, with the torquey electric motor is quick off the line, and the vehicle—based on a brief ~9 mile drive—does not feel sluggish in city or higher speed traffic.
It handles well and briskly in lane changing and cornering, with only a very minor wallowing from the weight.
It is also, like a battery electric vehicle, extremely quiet.
|CaFCP's Dunwoody moving back to ARB
|After 15 years as the California Fuel Cell Partnership’s (CaFCP) executive director, Catherine Dunwoody is stepping into a new role at the California Air Resources Board.
|CaFCP started in 1999 as a collaboration between auto, energy and fuel cell companies and the State of California. Dunwoody, then a member of ARB’s staff, was selected to provide day-to-day leadership and management for the organization. A tireless and articulate advocate, she oversaw the building of CaFCP’s headquarters and first hydrogen station; the growth from eight members to more than 30; and the expansion of California’s hydrogen station network.
|Dunwoody will now become responsible for ARB’s external coordination among sister agencies at the local, state and federal levels, along with industry participants launching products into the early market. Her primary goal will be to support a successful launch and market growth for FCEVs. She begins her new role effective 1 August 2014.
The shifter has three settings: D for standard drive mode; E for Eco mode, which puts a very noticeable limit on the accelerator pedal response and L for low, or down-hill mode. This is essentially the high regen setting, enabling brake regeneration to kick in noticeably as soon as the driver’s foot is lifted from the pedal.
From our subjective view, E was too sluggish, but driving in L was quite comfortable, providing both good pedal response as well as the satisfying hard regen that a good EV can provide.
Fueling is quite simple; we pulled into one of the available hydrogen stations in the region (this one a Shell station with conventional fuels as well.
The hydrogen pumps (designated by blue signage) offer both 700 bar and 350 bar fueling. A fill-up is simply a matter of entering a pin code on the panel, inserting the nozzle into the fueling port, and pushing “go”. Minutes later, refueling (governed by SAE standards, earlier post) is complete.
As part of the development of the hydrogen fueling infrastructure, stations are trying different methods for hydrogen procurement. The station at which we fueled generates its own, producing 100 kg of hydrogen per day from a small steam methane reforming unit at the back of the lot. Another station in the LA/OC area taps directly into the hydrogen pipeline that services the area refineries; another produces 40 kg of hydrogen per day from an electrolysis unit atop the fueling canopy, using renewable electricity as the power source.
|Report: Toyota advancing fuel cell vehicle production
|The Japan Times cited unnamed sources to report that Toyota Motor Corp. plans to begin commercial production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in mid-December, and roll out the vehicle by the end of this year ahead of its earlier target of 2015.
To support the development of the hydrogen infrastructure development, California approved a plan in October 2013 to develop up to 100 hydrogen refueling stations in the state over the next several years. This recent California initiative dovetails with increased government support of hydrogen infrastructure development at the federal level, such as H2USA.
Additionally, the California Energy Commission recently announced the proposed awarding of $44.5 million for the development of 28 new hydrogen stations (plus one mobile refueler), bringing the total number of hydrogen fueling stations (open, in-development, and proposed) to more than 50 stations.
As these stations begin to open, Hyundai plans to expand the offering of the Tucson Fuel Cell.