Hydrogen Car from Hyundai Coming Next Year

The Detroit Bureau

Hyundai Motor Group is bet­ting heav­i­ly on the world’s light­est gas – with sales of its new hydro­gen fuel-cell vehi­cle set to begin in the U.S. ear­ly next year.

Find out more about Hyundai’s U.S. hydro­gen fuel cell ven­ture.

Hyundai is already sell­ing the iX35 hydro­gen car in Europe and prep­ping the lit­tle crossover for the Amer­i­can mar­ket.

Hyundai is bet­ting heav­i­ly on the world’s light­est gas – with U.S. sales of its new hydro­gen fuel-cell vehi­cle set to begin in the U.S. ear­ly next year.

Some­times described as “refill­able bat­ter­ies,” fuel cells pro­duce noth­ing but water vapor in their exhaust and are one of only a hand­ful of ways to meet the strin­gent zero-emis­sion vehi­cle, or ZEV, require­ments set for Cal­i­for­nia and oth­er parts of the world. But hydro­gen pow­er has its own draw­backs, includ­ing the lack of a refu­el­ing infra­struc­ture that experts warn could take years – and cost bil­lions of dol­lars – to over­come.

“We are study­ing the mar­ket to see which will work bet­ter,” Moon-Sik Kwan, pres­i­dent of Hyundai Motor Group’s R&D Divi­sion, tells TheDetroitBureau.com, not­ing that while Hyundai is focus­ing on hydro­gen, its South Kore­an part­ner Kia is prepar­ing a bat­tery-elec­tric ver­sion of its lit­tle Soul crossover.

Hydro­gen fuel cells have been around since the mid-1900s, though they were lit­tle more than a sci­en­tif­ic curios­i­ty until the Apol­lo space pro­gram, when they were tapped to pro­vide pow­er on the moon mis­sion cap­sules. Fuel cells gained pro­po­nents with­in the auto indus­try dur­ing the 1990s, only to see the spot­light shift to bat­tery pow­er in the new mil­len­ni­um. But now, as the range and cost lim­its of lithi­um-ion tech­nol­o­gy becomes increas­ing­ly appar­ent, fuel cells have again gained a fol­low­ing.

Toy­ota has promised to put a fuel cell vehi­cle into lim­it­ed pro­duc­tion by 2015, Hon­da fol­low­ing up soon after with a replace­ment for its ear­li­er FC-X Clar­i­ty mod­el. Gen­er­al Motors and oth­ers could begin pro­duc­tion of their own hydro­gen cars lat­er in the decade.

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