The rollout of more hydrogen fuel cell cars is being held back by a lack of refuelling infrastructure, according to Hyundai Europe president and chief operating officer Allan Rushforth.
Rushforth said the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell – which he claims is the only hydrogen fuel cell car currently commercially available in the world – is limited in its application due to a slow rollout of refuelling points.
“We can move as quickly as the market will allow us, on the basis that the infrastructure is available to refuel,” Rushforth said. “And at the moment there isn’t the infrastructure.”
Rushforth said any mainstream application of hydrogen fuel cell cars globally is ”entirely infrastructure dependent”.
“Having said that, the cars drive, refuel, ride just like any other car. There’s lots of useability, the range is there,” he said, pointing out the Intrado concept SUV revealed at the 2014 Geneva motor show has a range of 600km.
“Everything is there to allow the technology to take off – except for the hydrogen refuelling stations.”
Mercedes-Benz built a number of prototype B-Class F-Cell models in the car’s previous iteration, and while the company completed an around the world trip in those cars, there has been little news in relation to further fuel cell development for production cars.
Toyota has ambitious plans for its first hydrogen fuel cell car, which will go on sale in 2015. Fellow Japanese brand Honda was once at the cutting edge of fuel cell development with the FCX Clarity (which is still available to some buyers at $600/month on a three-year lease in the US), and it intends to be there again in 2015 when it launches a new-generation hydrogen-powered EV in 2015/16 (see image of the Honda FCEV concept above).
Rushforth said Hyundai was collaborating with all three of these companies to push the case for mainstream hydrogen cars.
“What we’re doing is working very closely with Toyota, Daimler and Honda – all of whom have got some capability with hydrogen fuel cell technology. We’re the most developed, we’re the only brand that has [hydrogen] cars for sale right now.
“Nonetheless, yes, we’re happy to work alongside other manufacturers to get critical mass for this fuel in Europe,” Rushforth said.