WardsAuto has announced the 2015 winners of its 10 Best Engines awards which include a fuel-cell power plant supplied by Hyundai and available in the Tucson (ix35) CUV. The 100-kW fuel cell is the first of its kind to receive an award from Wards and marks a significant advancement in the development of fuel cell technology.
Fitted in Hyundai’s Tucson, the fuel cell offers a range of around 265 miles (426 km) between refuelling, a process that takes around three minutes which is significantly quicker than plug in electric vehicles and on par with standard IC engines. Power delivery is reported as being extremely smooth with the unit providing 221 lb.-ft. (300 Nm) of torque beginning at 1,000 rpm.
The fuel cell fits in a standard engine bay and looks very similar to a standard power plant. The system converts hydrogen and oxygen into electricity which then powers the electric drive motors. Hydrogen is stored in fuel tanks located in the rear of the vehicle, with only a negligible loss of luggage space seen in the Tucson.
Stated as being the world’s first production model Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle, the success of the Hyundai Tucson will depend on the development of a network for refuelling. “We decided every important new technology does not start with a supporting infrastructure in place,” stated WardsAuto. “There was no built-in infrastructure for the electric light bulb, telephone or cell phone when they were invented. There was no national highway system or refuelling infrastructure when the Model T was introduced.”
In the USA the vehicle is available in California where there are currently nine public hydrogen refuelling stations with a further 19 in development. The state projects 100 will be built in the next decade and New York is planning to build 100 stations by 2020. Locations in other countries have also been identified and are under consideration.
Though Hyundai is first to enter the marketplace in California it is reported that Toyota will soon offer its Mirai FCV for sale in the region, with Honda offering an FCV in 2016, followed by General Motors and others.