|Photo Credit: CNW Group/Hyundai Auto Canada Corp|
Canadian motorists have been provided with some relief in the past few weeks as the correction of oil prices is bringing the prices at gas stations to a more tolerable level. While the immediate concerns for energy are being pacified by this drop, our future thoughts envision a world beyond the finite quantity of accessible oil. Hydrogen is seen as the most ambitious energy source. While dispelling safety and efficiency concerns with the plentiful gas, automakers are slowly spoon-feeding the driving public to hydrogen cars.
Some vehicles burn hydrogen fuel in an internal combustion engine but a more active vision sees the gas sent through fuel cells creating electrical power. A handful of test vehicles over the past decade have been a prelude what is a limited production run. The hydrogen fuel cell powered Honda FCX Clarity was first sold in 2008 and Toyota is set to produce the Mirai for driving customers. For the time being, California residents have been the only North American provided with the choice of evaluating hydrogen fuel cell technology due to the state's refuelling infrastructure. In Canada, the province of British Columbia has been most bullish on the prospect of hydrogen propelled automobiles setting up refuelling stations in Vancouver and Surrey. For 2015, this infrastructure will be put to greater use when Hyundai brings the first publically available fuel cell vehicle to Canada.
Based on a Hyundai Tucson crossover typically found with a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine, Canada's first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will be known as the Tucson FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle). "We firmly believe that Hyundai has already surpassed the tipping point in fuel cell technology development and that it's ready to be driven by customers interested in pioneering a zero-emissions automotive future," replied President and CEO of Hyundai Auto Canada Corporation Don Romano. Being introduced for Vancouver area residents during the early part of 2015, Hyundai's Canadian availability of the fuel cell crossover follows its debut in the United States earlier this year where it is available through a limited set of Southern California dealerships. Aside from the United States, the Hyundai Tucson FCEV is also marketed in countries such as United Kingdom, Germany, France and South Korea.
Though the Hyundai Tucson FCEV needs a gas-based fuel source, it is effectively an electric car. Using a PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel cell, electrical power is extracted through the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen stored in a battery pack. On the Tucson FCEV, a 100-kilowatt electric motor provides momentum amounting to 134 horsepower. Travel distance for the fuel cell powered Hyundai is estimated at roughly 482 kilometers under ideal conditions. At British Columbia's hydrogen refuelling stations, motorist will require only five minutes to replenish the storage tank.
While an electric vehicle, Hyundai promotes its Tucson FCEV as having advantages over plug-in battery electric cars. Hyundai claims their fuel cell crossover delivers improved distance, better efficiency in cold weather and even less greenhouse gas emissions compared to a battery-powered vehicle. President and CEO of the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association Eric Denhoff commented, "Fuel cell vehicles have the potential to make a huge, positive impact on the environment and climate change," adding Hyundai's Tucson FCEV is proof Canada should prepare to take the next steps to embrace hydrogen power.
Largely an experimental vehicle, Hyundai's Tucson FCEV is not going to be available for outright purchase. Instead, prospective British Columbian drivers can acquire the vehicle through a three-year lease term, At $599 per month the Tucson FCEV, Canadians will be paying $100 more per month than our American counterparts. Maintenance and even refuelling is being provided at no additional cost.