With an EV/HEV/PHEV market projecting a total share growth of up to 4% by end of the year, eco-sellers should be feeling pretty good. However, an innovative product, referred to as the Hyundai ix35 Tucson, is quietly rolling into dealerships in the west. Consequently, if reasonable sales numbers follow accordingly, the vehicle’s emergence could signal the beginning of entirely new ballgame.
Three central objections typically apply when working to attract buyers to the value EV’s. These include the potential of limited range, concerns about low time-to-charge cycles, and issues regarding the availability of public recharge systems that limit public interest.
If one lives in a highly-urban area all three constraints are reasonably easy to overcome. In this case, most point-to-point locations will typically fall within the range of even the shortest legged EV, and if power recovery is required within a metro-area, more and more plug-in outlets are appearing where recharging can be accommodated. However, in less populous areas, range will be king, and power recharge points will be scarce, if at all.
However, what if there was a new car that was all-EV-all-the-time, and offered a consistent 300 mile range? Known in both Europe and the APAC regions as the ix35, the new Hyundai ix35 Tucson FCEV has begun to quietly appear at dealerships on the left coast. The vehicle offers typical Hyundai crossover size, trim and amenities, but it’s the vehicle’s collection of integrated power and storage components that sets the ix35 Tucson apart from its brethren.
Nestled between the vehicle’s rear wheels, a compressed hydrogen gas container stores enough H2 to produce a straight-up mileage of between 270 – 300 miles between fill-ups; and when you do need to add gas, the entire evolution takes about 10 minutes to complete.
This range advantage is accompanied by pretty acceptable performance numbers for a crossover, since the new Hyundai can go from 0-60 in just over 12 seconds, and tops out at a measured 100 mph. The car’s motivation is pushed by a 100kW induction motor, producing 134 HP at 5000, and 221 foot pounds of torque.
Currently, ix35s will be delivered on the basis of a 36 month/$499 per month lease plan. However, once the company gains a better understanding of the U.S. FCEV market, Hyundai has suggested that a future sale price will likely to be in the area of $28k (US).
Excitement aside, however, just like any other new endeavor, challenges will abound particularly in the case of delivering enough compressed Hydrogen to support likely interest in the effort. As it stands, public Hydrogen stations operate only in California and South Carolina, although more H2 utilities are planned for, or currently in construction.
Regardless, the Tucson represents Hyundai’s clear commitment to running a long game. According to a spokesman, the company is going to build interest slowly and only build 1000 units during the first model year, “Hyundai started developing hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle technology in 1998, and this latest (activity) will help further raise awareness of hydrogen power as a long-term transport solution.”