2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Hydrogen-Powered Electric Vehicle
2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, things are running a little bit behind on Hyundai’s hydrogen-powered Tucson Fuel Cell CUV program in the US. The last time we checked in with the South Korean automaker’s H2 project. In the US, the Tucson Fuel Cell CUV leases for $499 a month (with $2,999 down) for 36 months, and comes with unlimited hydrogen refueling as well as Hyundai’s Valet Maintenance. The first Hyundai dealers to offer the 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cellto Southern California customers are Hardin Hyundai in Anaheim, Win Hyundai in Carson and Tustin Hyundai, with additional Hyundai dealers to follow. Availability of the 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell will expand to other regions consistent with the accelerating deployment of hydrogen refueling stations. Further supporting 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 H2 USA.
The New Technology Electric Vehicle
To achieve societal goals of significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, more and more consumers will need to drive zero-emissions vehicles.Developed more than 100 years ago, the battery electric vehicle has made progress in recent years, with improved affordability and energy storage capability. But for most consumers, range anxiety and lengthy recharging time remain formidable obstacles to using them in their daily lives. 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 Tucson Fuel Cell (Tucson Fuel Cell Advantages)
Hyundai is introducing its Tucson Fuel Cell to alleviate the limitations of traditional battery electric vehicles. The Tucson Fuel Cell maintains the day-to-day flexibility of the gasoline-powered Tucson, so that its driver is able to immediately enjoy the next generation of electric vehicles without range or recharge-time compromises to their lifestyle.
The Tucson Fuel Cell represents the next generation of electric vehicles – those that create their own electricity, on-board, from hydrogen. According to UCI’s Advanced Power and Energy Program’s 2013 study, the hydrogen fuel cell provides comparable well-to-wheel emissions as a battery electric vehicle. For the Tucson Fuel Cell driver, this social benefit is achieved with greater utility, versatility and without compromises. Consider:
- Driving range of 250-300 miles (Estimated driving range based on internal tests; EPA ratings to be determined by launch)
- Capable of full refueling in under 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
- Superb daily 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
- Extensive crash, fire and leak testing successfully completed
- Quieter EV operation
- Zero greenhouse-gas emissions, emits only water vapor
In operation, a fuel cell vehicle acts and drives much like an electric vehicle. The Tucson Fuel Cell driver faces a familiar two-pod instrument cluster, with an analog charge/power dial on the left and an analog speedometer on the right. Set inside the power dial is a digital segment temperature gauge for the coolant. While electric vehicles typically don’t have coolant, the FCV uses the liquid to cool its fuel stack and electronics. The digital segment fuel level gauge, set inside the speedometer, displays the balance of hydrogen in the tank. A digital multifunction display, between the two dials, offers trip computer information and instant MPGe readings.
The standard Tucson Limited FWD, with a 2.4-liter combustion engine, tips the scales at 3,294 pounds. Brace yourself, as the Tucson Fuel Cell is a whopping 807 pounds heavier. Hyundai engineers note swapping the gasoline engine for a fuel stack under the front hood is virtually a wash, and the two Kevlar-wrapped fuel tanks don’t add much weight. The bulk of the added mass comes from the 24-kW lithium polymer battery pack. Normally, packing on that much weight has negative effects on driving dynamics – but not this time. The low-slung and compact weight (all situated below the passenger cabin) acts like a ballast inertia damper, countering the bouncing and jarring effects of driving down the road. Unlike its combustion-powered sibling, which can follow undulations in the pavement, the Tucson Fuel Cell glides like a silent electric limousine.
Compared to its combustion sibling, the Tucson Fuel Cell falls 48 horsepower shy, and it has all of that aforementioned mass to lug around. Have no worries, as the FCV’s torque output is 44 pound-feet greater, and it’s available right off the bat. While a 0-60 time of about 11.5 seconds won’t cause whiplash, the emission-free crossover feels rather zippy between 15 and 45 miles per hour, which is likely where it will spend most of its time. It is expectedly lethargic off the line, and overtaking at highway speeds requires a bit of planning, but if you keep it in the sweet spot, it’s rather enjoyable.
Hyundai fits the FCV with slightly larger front disc brakes (to accommodate the increased curb weight) that are part of a regenerative braking system that pumps energy back into the battery pack. Brake feel is okay, but the driver is definitely aware of the two-tons beneath his jeans. The steering, with slightly different ratios, is overboosted, light and uncommunicative – but it adds to the sense of isolation, so many will approve. Transitional handling is safe and predictable, but unexciting – anyone who shows up at an autocross with a Tucson Fuel Cell crossover is lost.
Government officials in California haven’t figured out how to properly charge for hydrogen fuel (once they develop a pump that can reliably weigh the fuel while dispensing, expect it to be sold by the kilogram), so Tucson Fuel Cell owners enjoy free fuel from six Los Angeles-area stations during the term of their lease. The programs are capped at 12,000 miles a year, so owners won’t break the bank. Each of the stations is equipped with a 700-bar pump fitted with a WEH TK17 pistol-grip nozzle that is held just like a common gasoline/diesel nozzle. Once the female nozzle is connected securely to the male nipple on the vehicle, an infrared ring around the nozzle communicates data wirelessly with the vehicle during fueling – it is clean and very high tech. At today’s dispensing rates, it takes about 10 minutes to fill an empty “tank” (two tanks, actually). A full tank, which is 12.4 pounds of hydrogen, delivers a range of about 265 miles.
Fuel Cell Technology (How It work)
Hyundai’s fuel cell effectively replaces the battery pack used in an electric vehicle by generating electricity from hydrogen through an electrochemical process that does not involve hydrogen combustion, with no moving parts within the fuel cell stack.
- The fuel cell electrochemical process is as follows:
- Hydrogen enters the anode, air (oxygen) enters the cathode
- Catalyst splits the hydrogen electrons and protons
- Electrolyte conducts the positively-charged ions while blocking the electrons
- Electrons are used to create an external circuit, generating electricity
- Catalyst combines hydrogen ions, electrons and oxygen, creating H2O and heat
- A single fuel cell produces one volt; “stacking” meets voltage requirements
2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Specs:
Engine : 100-kW Stack / 100-kW Motor
Power : 134 HP / 221 LB-FT
Transmission : Single-Speed
0-60 Time : 11.5 Seconds (est)
Drivetrain : Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight : 4,101 LBS
Seating : 2+3
MPG : 49 MPGe City / 50 MPGe HWY
2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Image Gallery