Hyundai Canada announced today that it will offer hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles to the Canadian public – the first automaker to do so.
The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV), which arrived in the U.S. earlier this year, will become available to Canadians beginning in early 2015, but only in the Vancouver area.
A select group of Canadian customers will have the opportunity to lease the vehicle at $599 per month over a three year term. The lease includes maintenance and unlimited hydrogen refueling.
The company is taking applications from potential customers exclusively through a dedicated website, www.HyundaiHydrogen.ca.
The Tucson FCEV will come with an “At Your Service” valet program: if a Tucson FCEV should require service of any kind, a Hyundai dealer will pick up the vehicle at the owner's home or business and provide a loaner hybrid vehicle, then return it when the service is completed, at no charge.
A fuel cell uses hydrogen gas as fuel, drawing both hydrogen and air into its 'stack' where the two are combined electrochemically to generate electricity. There is no combustion of hydrogen and the stack has no moving parts.
The only by-product of the process is water vapour, resulting in zero greenhouse-gas emissions from the vehicle itself. The electricity generated powers the vehicle's electric motor and charges an onboard battery pack.
The Tucson FCEV is said to take less than 5 minutes to refuel and has an estimated range of 426 kilometres – both comparable to those for the existing gasoline-powered Tucson.
That range is the FCEV's big advantage over conventional battery electric vehicles, for which range anxiety and recharge-time are major deterrents to purchase.
Hyundai says the Tucson FCEV has also undergone extensive crash, fire, and leak testing and that cold weather has minimal effects on its driving range, compared to battery electric vehicles.
"The challenge facing this technology has always been characterized by a chicken-and-egg scenario, where car companies won’t bring fuel cell vehicles to market without an infrastructure and there is no need for a refueling industry without customers," said Don Romano, President and CEO of Hyundai Auto Canada.
The Vancouver area already has a modest hydrogen refueling infrastructure in place.
"It’s time to move beyond simply talking about the opportunity," said Romano. "We’re planting the seed for a new segment of the industry.”