While most carmakers continue to grapple with the range limitations of battery-powered pure electric cars, Hyundai is putting its zero emissions chips on fuel cell electrics, and backing its bet with a Tucson SUV that will be initially available in California's Los Angeles and Orange Counties next spring. Initially a non-starter due to high expense, fuel cell technology cost has been whittled down to a more viable level, prompting three Asian carmakers-Honda, Toyota, and now Hyundai-to press forward with consumer models. To oversimplify a little, fuel cells convert hydrogen (H2) to electricity, and the only by-product is water vapor: no emissions. System advantages versus pure electrics are greater range -up to 300 miles with the Fuel Cell Tucson, according to Hyundai-and much quicker refills. Hyundai claims that the Tucson's hydrogen supply can be replenished in under 10 minutes, compared to hours for electrics on most charging systems.
Hyundai also notes that hydrogen is widely available from a number of sources, with a substantial number of refueling sites in the Southern California area. California also plans to continue expanding H2 consumer availability, with at least 100 sites planned statewide. Hyundai did not furnish an EPA mpg equivalency figure, which will be finalized when the Tucson becomes available to customers. Already on the road in Europe, the Fuel Cell Tucson will be offered by four Hyundai dealers in the two counties, as well as Enterprise Rent-a-Car locations in the same area.
The initial 36-month lease deal is $499 per month, with a down payment of $2,999. That's steep, but Hyundai mitigates the cost by offering free H2 refills throughout the term of the lease.
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