Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell: Early Drivers Discuss Experiences Traveling On Hydrogen

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Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell leased by Paul Berkman, Corona del Mar, California

Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell leased by Paul Berkman, Corona del Mar, California

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There have already been more Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell vehicles leased in the U.S. than any other hydrogen-powered vehicle.

Through April, Hyundai has leased 68 of the small SUVs since last June, when the first one was delivered.

That slightly exceeds the number of Honda FCX Clarity fuel-cell sedans leased from 2008 through April.

DON'T MISS: First 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Delivered In California (Jun 2014)

We spoke to early lessees in the U.S. and Canada to find out how they felt about driving on hydrogen and what kinds of experiences they'd had.

In the U.S., Paul Berkman has now had his Tucson Fuel Cell for six months, and he's covered 9,300 miles traveling among the three restaurants and the bed-and-breakfast he owns and operates.

His home in Corona del Mar, California, is only a few miles from three separate hydrogen fueling stations--one of the qualifications for leasing a fuel-cell vehicle in the first place.

2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell at hydrogen fueling station, Fountain Valley, CA

2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell at hydrogen fueling station, Fountain Valley, CA

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In Canada, Clayton Crawley and Jennifer Ma together leased the country's very first hydrogen-powered Hyundai in February.

The Vancouver, British Columbia, couple kicked off a roster of what will ultimately be about 30 leases in B.C.

Ma's workplace is just a few blocks from Metro Vancouver's only high-pressure hydrogen fueling station. (It is only accessible during business hours, howeve,r because it is sited on the property of the local electric utility.)

ALSO SEE: 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell: Hydrogen Crossover First Drive (Dec 2013)

Both Berkman and the Crawley-Ma household report that refueling with hydrogen is relatively mundane.

The main differences: The pump looks futuristic, and the nozzle gets cold during the process (on account of the pre-cooling required to compensate for the heat produced as the hydrogen expands inside the vehicle tank during refueling).  very low temperatures at which the hydrogen is stored).

Berkman notes, however, that the heavily promoted "three-minute refueling" generally takes closer to 10 minutes. He's never once completed a fill-up in less than three minutes, he says.

2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell at hydrogen fueling station, Fountain Valley, CA

2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell at hydrogen fueling station, Fountain Valley, CA

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The pair of hydrogen pioneers also lauded the practicality and utility of the Tucson compact crossover.

Crawley and Ma said that design gave them confidence they could use the vehicle for camping trips with their two children and a dog.

He specifically mentioned feeling the Tucson Fuel Cell had been designed to fit their lives, and that they wouldn't need to make any compromises or adjustments in their routines to use the vehicle.

Similarly, Berkman liked the high SUV seating position, its comfortable seats, and the outward visibility--a particularly important point for him--along with the intuitive controls and its lack of electronic bells and whistles.

At 66, he said, he simply prefers not to have to learn those kinds of systems.

2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell at Hyundai headquarters, Fountain Valley, CA

2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell at Hyundai headquarters, Fountain Valley, CA

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He also praised the smoothness and quiet ride.

At one point, Berkmansaid, his Hyundai dealer loaned him a top-end gasoline Tucson loaded with options--"and it was really noisy!"

"I don't think I want a gas car ever again," he mused.

MORE: 10 Questions On Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Cars To Ask Toyota, Honda & Hyundai (Oct 2014)

As well as accessibility to rare hydrogen fueling stations, the early lessees appear to have an affinity for advanced-technology vehicles.

Crawley and Ma had looked into plug-in electric vehicles, but hadn't found one which met all their family's needs – cabin space, in particular.

Aside from a cargo floor that's an inch higher (and no spare tire), the hydrogen Tucson retains the space of its gasoline counterpart.


 
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