Not yet ready for the mainstream, fuel cell vehicles have so far been restricted to limited-run production models like the Honda FCX Clarity.
Korean giant Hyundai now has its own fuel cell production vehicle, and the first hydrogen Tucson crossovers have started rolling from the production line.
The fuel cell Tucson, or ix35 as it's known in other markets, has been developed for fleet use, mainly in Europe where a budding hydrogen network will make the car reasonably practical.
Hyundai has been working on fuel cell vehicles for 14 years and has put hundreds of millions of dollars into the project, as well as over 2 million miles of testing--so the Tucson Fuel-Cell is the real deal. The company wants to build 1,000 examples by 2015, making it the first true mass-produced fuel cell vehicle--albeit one which will still sell in very small numbers.
The Tucson Fuel-Cell uses a hydrogen tank pressurised to 700 bar, storing 5.6 kilograms of hydrogen (12.3 pounds). With an efficiency rating of 0.95 kgH2 to 100 kilometers, the Tucson can go approximately 369 miles on a fill.
A 24 kW battery is also employed for energy storage. The electric motor powering the car is enough for 12.5-second 0-62 mph sprints, and a top speed of 100 mph.
It joins the carmaker's 'Blue Drive' sub-brand, which includes cars like the Sonata Hybrid, as well as the Hyundai i10-based BlueOn, a Chevy Spark-sized electric car sold only in Korea.
Some big automakers may have signed technology agreements to develop the future of fuel cell technology, but it's taken a Korean brand to make a true production fuel cell vehicle.