The Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: The world’s first production hydrogen fuel cell car is actually here in limited quantities. This is a test vehicle for the company. We will not see this car on the roads or in dealerships for some time. Too bad!

Only 1000 cars in the next year and ramping to 15,000 in 2015 are being considered. This car runs on hydrogen and needs to be refueled every 350 miles or so with hydrogen. As with pure electric vehicles there are not many places at this time to refuel them.  Although they plan to build 15,000 by 2015, the major obstacle for these cars will be refueling stations. You must plan your trip very carefully to avoid any problems with running out of fuel. At least with electric cars you can plug them into a 110 volt outlet, preferably 220 volt to recharge them. There will be no such solution for the average urban fuel cell driver for a very long time. As a result they may not be seen in dealerships for many years.

Fleet Operators May Take Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars

Initially they will be sold to fleet operators who will be able to provide refueling facilities as well. They need a program of refueling each evening. Also a refueling station located on the premises of the fleet operator. In this situation they may be interesting to the operator to use. Hyundai will need to provide a number of incentives to the operator to persuade then to take on a brand new car with a brand new power source.

The incentive will have to include pricing for the cars comparable to other gas of diesel powered cars and operating costs that will be lower than the traditional powered cars. Whether this is subsidized by Hyundai or actually lower , the operator must be convinced that they will end up with the same or lower costs. For Hyundai, this initial set of cars will be a giant laboratory which they can use to perfect the electronics, the fuel cells, the fuel distribution system and the power train.

We will keep an eye on this experiment and write further posts about hydrogen fuel cells as more information becomes available. For more posts about issues associated with electric vehicles, click here.