Hyundai Tucson ix FCEV - A new generation of fuel-cell efficiency

Making its first U.S. appearance at this week's Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy 2011 gathering in Washington, D.C., the Hyundai Tucson ix FCEV showcases the automaker's latest Gen III fuel cell technology in a new package that boasts greater range and superior operational capability in a lighter, more compact configuration. While the fuel cell stack and electric motor drive in the Tucson ix FCEV carry the same 100kW ratings as the previous Tucson FCEV, the hydrogen capacity in its new and now twin storage cylinders has been upped from 3.5 kg to 5.6 kg, and gets pressurized to 10,150 psi, twice the previous figure. The 100kW super-capacitor used previously also has been replaced by a new 21kWh lithium-ion-polymer battery pack.

This more sophisticated setup allows the Tucson ix FCEV to travel 400 miles on a single fueling, 76 percent further than its predecessor. It also returns the electrical equivalent of 70 mpg, which represents a 15 percent improvement in that area, as well. By placing greater emphasis on modularization, Hyundai engineers managed to reduce the size of the package by 20 percent. They also addressed cold-weather capabilities, allowing the new Tucson ix FCEV to operate in temperatures as low as -13F/-25C.

Hyundai plans to evaluate a test fleet of 50 new Tucson ix FCEVs throughout the remainder of 2011 as part of an ongoing validation program with the Korean government. It expects to put the vehicle into limited production in 2012 with volume build set to start in 2015. No word yet on how the Hyundai Tucson ix FCEV will figure in the automaker's U.S. product mix.

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