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Hyundai begins production of fuel-cell vehicles

Delivery of ix35 fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) to European customers is under way

Published: February 28, 2013, 9:00 PM

Hyundai says it is the world’s first automaker to begin assembly-line production of hydrogen-powered

The first Hyundai ix35 FCEV rolled off the assembly line at the company’s Ulsan manufacturing facility earlier this week. The ix35 is the European version of the Tucson compact crossover utility vehicle sold in North America.

FCEVs are typically fuelled by hydrogen, which is electro-chemically converted into electricity in a fuel cell stack to drive an electric motor. The only physical by-product of the process is water, so FCEVs are said to be emissions-free, so far as the vehicles themselves are concerned.

Other companies, including General Motors, Honda and Mercedes-Benz have built FCEVs in quantity in the past, but apparently not as part of the production-line process.

"The ix35 Fuel Cell is the most eco-friendly vehicle in the auto industry and proves that hydrogen fuel cell technology in daily driving is no longer a dream," said Hyundai Motor vice-chairman, Eok Jo Kim at the line-off ceremony.

That first ix35 FCEV will be one of 15 destined for fleet customers in Copenhagen, Denmark, as part of that city's initiative to be carbon-free by 2025.

Two others from the initial run will go to the city of Skåne, Sweden.

Hyundai plans to build 1,000 ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles by 2015 for lease to public and private fleets, primarily in Europe, where the European Union has initiated construction of hydrogen fueling stations.

After 2015, with lowered vehicle production costs and further developed hydrogen infrastructure, Hyundai says, the company will begin manufacturing hydrogen FCEVs for retail consumer sales.

The Hyundai’s ix35 Fuel Cell is said to provide drivability and performance similar to that of the gasoline-powered ix35.

Hyundai claims it's capable of 0-to-100km/h acceleration in 12.5 seconds, with a top speed of 100 km/h. Refuelling is said to take just a few minutes and a full tank will enable a range of up to 594 km.

The first production ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle will be on display at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.

fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) for fleet use.