After publishing a few critical articles about hydrogen mobility on this site last year, both by myself and a guest author, most notably about the technology when compared to “traditional” Battery Electric Vehicles, I was given the chance to be among the first to drive a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle in Europe: the Hyundai ix35 FCEV. You would’ve seen the pictures yesterday if you followed me on Twitter. In the meantime, the technology has made progress and looks ever more promising, although there’s still a long way to go before hydrogen becomes a viable alternative to gasoline or diesel for a private car buyer.
While Honda has had a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle available for lease in California since 2008, the FCX Clarity has never been able to reach mass production, with less than 100 cars delivered to customers. Other hydrogen test cars from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and General Motors never made it past the prototype phase. This makes Hyundai the first automaker to start mass production of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle, when it started production of 10.000 Hyundai ix35 FCEV early this year. The South-Koreans beat Toyota to the honor, as the Japanese brand only recently started taking orders for its Mirai FCEV.
This means the ix35 FCEV is a huge image booster for Hyundai, in the same way the Prius hybrid was for Toyota, helping the brand establish itself as a technology leader and a “green” automaker. Driving the car on public roads in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, the ix35 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle has convinced me that the technology for this type of vehicle is indeed ready, which solves the chicken-or-egg problem with this new technology. [Read more…]