A Clean, Quiet and Comfortable Fuel Cell Car

H2 refueling at the Berlin filling station

Hyundai has been on the market with its mass-produced ix35 fuel cell car since 2013. Last year, 250 units were shipped to Europe, with 120 sold or leased to German businesses alone. And this year, Linde established BeeZero, which ordered as many as 50 of them for its vehicle-sharing service in Munich. Even though the fuel cell version won’t be coming to every Hyundai dealership within the next months, H2-international put it to the test for nine days to show you the technology and equipment – in addition to Mortimer Schulz’s experiences of driving the ix35 long-distance (see A Journey South in a Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell).

The test car arrives well wrapped inside a closed trailer after being shipped directly from Offenbach to the address of our publishing house. It has a full tank and is sparkly clean – not surprising, given the fact that it has only been driven for 4,500 kilometers (2,796 miles). Instead of a normal car key, the shipping company hands me a remote control for the Keyless Go system. That is all. One more signature and I am standing alone next to a big, white off-road truck.

The ix35 Fuel Cell is based on the Tucson, a five-door SUV with five seats. It’s already the fourth generation of Hyundai’s fuel cell vehicle (after the Santa Fe FCEV in 2000, the Tucson FCEV in 2004 and the ix35 FCEV in 2012). In March 2013, the company started mass production in South Korea. Despite today’s small market, it is both the first and the most popular vehicle of its kind in Germany.

Relaxed driving

I sit down on the comfortable leather seat and press the ignition button. The …

The high-voltage battery offers a capacity of 24 kWh and the 144 L (= 5.6 kg) GH2 storage provides more than 188 kWh, which results in a potential range of 594 kilometers (369 miles). During my freeway drive, I achieve a top speed of 165 kph (103 mph) – it won’t go any faster.

H2 refueling made simple

I need to fill up twice in the nine days that I have for testing the fuel cell car. The first time is directly after the DWV general assembly meeting: An association member …

A few days later, I fill up …

There is not much more to report about the car, except for the fact that at the beginning, you don’t know exactly whether the vehicle is still on or off. But as so often, practice makes perfect.

A heavy price to pay – despite incentive

The ix35 Fuel Cell confirms without a doubt that …

Hyundai’s website lists the price for an ix35 Fuel Cell, incl. VAT, as EUR 65,450 (monthly rate of EUR 599). The price excluding VAT is EUR 55,000 – meaning it falls within the range of the EUR 4,000 economic incentive (see Eco-Bonus Not Yet Appealing). This makes the ix35 Fuel Cell the currently only fuel cell car to be eligible for a direct financial incentive in Germany.

In South Korea, the situation is much more favorable to electric car buyers, who receive subsidies and tax incentives of EUR 21,400 per vehicle. The country’s economy ministry intends to increase the number of H2 cars to 9,000 by 2020 and to 630,000 by 2030. The Korean government also plans to have 80 H2 filling stations up and running by 2020.

New generation

In the meantime, the Asian manufacturer has already been developing the next generation of fuel cell cars. Hyundai Motor announced that a new model would be available later this decade (presumably in 2018 before the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang). It could be based on the Tucson again, but with a top speed of 180 kph and a design targeting primarily non-business customers – and at a lower price. Frank Meijer, head of the Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles department at Hyundai Motor Europe, told motoring.com.au that as roominess and usability were important, it would again be another off-road vehicle, a crossover or an SUV.

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