70 Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicles Run 500,000 Miles in California

The benefits of hydrogen are well known -- required supplies for the U.S. market can be produced domestically and its supply is virtually unlimited.

The benefits of hydrogen are well known — required supplies for the U.S. market can be produced domestically and its supply is virtually unlimited.

During the first year of operation 70 Hyundai Tucson crossover fuel cell vehicles have traversed more than 475,000 miles on California streets and freeways. The Tucson Fuel Cell CUV has an estimated 265 miles of range between a hydrogen fill-up. Hydrogen stations are expected to reach 20 by the end of 2015 in California and ~50 stations in 2017.

The fuel cell – at great expense – improves on some of the limitations of traditional battery electric vehicles. According to the University of California, Irvine Advanced Power and Energy Program’s study, the hydrogen fuel cell provides comparable total well-to-wheel emissions to a battery electric vehicle.

The light duty fuel cell vehicle has shown promise for decades. But the problem remains that it is space age technology at NASA levels of cost. Not surprisingly, automakers have varying levels of interest in fuel cells that always appear to be just a decade or so from commercialization.

Hyundai one year ago today first offered the Tucson Fuel Cell in Los Angeles and Orange counties at $499 per month for a 36-month term, with $2,999 down. The heavily subsidized deal (by Hyundai and taxpayers) included unlimited free hydrogen refueling and valet maintenance.

Hyundai of course advertises and promotes fuel economy as the very cornerstone of the brand. Moreover, Hyundai has mocked other automakers for having an asterisk in their advertising since only some their models achieved the best mileage nuder touted in the ad. Hyundai (and Kia), got caught on their rating practices. (See Hyundai and Kia Caught in EPA Mileage Rating Fraud, Hyundai Cancels Media Event in Wake of EPA MPG Fraud)

“Over the past year, Hyundai’s Tucson Fuel Cell owners are showing the world today that this technology represents the next generation of zero-emissions transportation,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president, Corporate and Product Planning, Hyundai Motor America.

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About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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