Hyundai has claimed a global first this week, as the first of its hydrogen fuel-cell powered ix35 SUVs rolled off the assembly line at its Ulsan, Korea plant.
The car will be one of 15 sent to fleets in Denmark, forming part of Copenhagen's initiative to be carbon-free by 2025. Another two of the ix35 Fuel Cell SUVs will be delivered to Skåne, Sweden.
Production of the ix35 Fuel Cell model will be limited to 1000 cars between now and 2015, but Hyundai expects to produce more than 10,000 units over time.
“Assembly-line production of fuel cell vehicles marks a crucial milestone in the history of the automobile industry not just in Korea, but throughout the world,” Mang Woo Park, mayor of Ulsan city, said.
“By supplying more hydrogen refuelling stations to support the eco-friendly fuel cell vehicles produced, we will make Ulsan the landmark for eco-friendly automobiles.”
Driving the ix35 Fuell Cell is an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, which itself is fuelled by the hydrogen fuell-cell that converts its stores into electricity.
This allows owners to 'fill up' in a matter of moments at a capable service station, rather than plugging their vehicle in and waiting for a charge.
Hyundai promises a 0-100km/h time of 12.5 seconds, with a top speed of 162km/h.
Hyundai claims a driving range of 588km, which is probably just as well given the relative paucity of hydrogen filling stations. However, Hyundai is working with European governments to speed the construction of hydrogen stations.
The range is also aided by a stop-start system for the fuel cell, shutting it down and relying only on the battery for power for short periods.
Hyundai says it has already locked in a lease agreement with the city of Copenhagen, where 15 ix35 Fuel Cell cars will be used by various government offices.
A hydrogen fuel cell car has two main benefits: the first is that its only output is water vapour and a little bit of heat. The second is that the user experience is mostly unchanged, with the re-fuelling experience similar to conventional vehicles.