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December 11, 2013

At The Los Angeles Auto Show, Hyundai's Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Is The Next Big Thing

2013_Los_Angeles_Auto_Show-BAS_6950-Hyundai_Tucson_hydrogen_fuel_cellThe Los Angeles Auto show was a buzz with “Green Automobiles,” the alternatives to the gasoline-powered internal combustion engines  (ICE) we are all so accustomed to driving. Seems to me that electric automobiles have been increasing in popularity for the last couple of years!

Manufacturers have made some great progress with plug-in electric automobiles: they’ve increased the distances the automobiles are able to go on a single charge, and there are more charging station outlets available for electric car drivers to use.  Fisker and Tesla  have also made sure that frumpy style is no longer an issue. Automakers have even made great strides to reduce cost and make the electric automobile much more affordable and appealing to mainstream public. However much to my surprise electric automobile reveals were not the only big thing at the Auto show this year: it was actually the hydrogen fuel cell automobile presented by Hyundai stealing the “green” show…

2013_Los_Angeles_Auto_Show-Hyundai_Tucson_hydrogen_fuel_cell-side_viewThe interesting thing about the production-model Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle presented by Hyundai is you cannot tell by looking at the Tucson SUV that anything is different from that of the gas-powered model. In fact, the automaker is able to use the same body and other parts when assembling the fuel cell automobile as they use when they make the gas version. This allows the manufacturer to save money because they do not need to separate the manufacturing process: They simply change the parts that go under the hood and replace some of the components from the gasoline-powered engines with fuel cell components.

More big buzz about the Hydrogen fuel cells automobiles is the fact that they are technically electric cars and create zero tailpipe emissions, aside from a bit of vapor water.  How do Hydrogen vehicles work? Hydrogen in the fuel cells passes through a membrane to create the electricity that powers the automobile. And while the average time it takes for an electric automobile to be fully charged is about eight hours, the “charging” of a Hydrogen fuel  cell automobile occurs at a Hydrogen station in about 10 minutes.

Just like myself a lot of people hear the word “Hydrogen” and think “Hindenberg,” and “Explosion,” but these fears are not true. The Hydrogen automobile is very safe and the interiors are equipped with the same safety equipment as the gasoline version of the autos.

2013_Los_Angeles_Auto_Show-Hyundai_Tucson_hydrogen_fuel_cell-rear_viewBeginning in spring of 2014, Hyundai is going to lease Hydrogen fuel cell Tucson SUVs to customers in the Los Angeles/Orange County region for $499 per month for a 36-month term, with $2,999 down, with the cost of the fuel included in the lease payment. This is intended to compensate for the shortage of Hydrogen fueling stations. Even though we have the Hydrogen fuel cell automobiles ready for production, we lack the infrastructure to recharge them. We simply do not yet have Hydrogen fueling stations conveniently available. 

Is it just a matter of “If you build it, they will come”? I hope it won’t be long before we start to see more Hydrogen fueling stations along our roadsides. This really seems to be exciting news for the auto industry and it looks like they are making big investments in development and production of these automobiles.  It appears the Hydrogen Fuel cell electric vehicle is the next big thing!

By Cherie Watters
President of Sales and Marketing,

President of Sales and Marketing,
President of Sales and Marketing,


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