The battle for electric vehicle dominance is heating up on all fronts. Whilst Nissan and Mitsubishi have cemented their position as battery-powered electric car manufacturers, others like Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz are focusing on perfecting Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs).
Last week saw Hyundai give the mayors of the four Nordic capital cities a chance to test drive its ix35 FCEV vehicles. The mayors came from capital cities of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland to see the future of mobility from Hyundai.
If you're wondering why Hyundai would showcase its Blue Drive technology in that part of the world, it's majorly due to the Nordic nations massive interest in electric vehicles. Iceland is currently the leading nation for electric vehicle uptake.
Additionally, 80% of Iceland's energy is produced renewable (from geothermal and hydro) with only 3% coming from coal. Iceland is a country which can legitimately claim to run electric vehicles as near zero-emission from power-plant to tailpipe.
So popular is the uptake of electric cars in Iceland that the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is one of the best selling vehicles in the market today. Hyundai plans to capture market-share in this segment with its ix35 FCEV.
Like the Mercedes-Benz F-CELL vehicles, The FCEV ix35s use hydrogen-powered fuel cells to power an electric motor, which results in a range of about 340km and a 0-100km/h time of 12.8 seconds. Top speed is a respectable 160km/h. Watch the video below:
The advantages of this compared to battery-powered vehicles is the additional range and the incredibly quick "refuel" time of just three minutes (as oppose to roughly 30 minutes for a 75% fast-charge or near 8 hours for a full charge in current generation battery-powered electric vehicles).
The reason these electric cars can work so well in the Nordic nations is due to their dense population and investment in electric infrastructure. Nonetheless, hydrogen recharging stations are still not nearly as common as fast-charge stations for battery-powered electric vehicles.
Hyundai is also working on vehicles which have the ability to store large amounts of energy (super conductors) as well as FCEVs. In the meantime the company continues to improve the efficiency of its current petrol and diesel engines.
The Korean company is expected to launch the the first production Hyundai FCEV in 2014. Will it come to Australia? Hyundai Australia's Senior PR Manager, Ben Hershman, told CarAdvice that "at this stage there is no plan to launch a Blue Drive hybrid or EV in Australia. We are working with HMC (Hyundai Motor Company) to determine the feasibility of bringing Blue Drive technology to Australia."
The four Nordic nations have already signed an MOU (Memorandum of understanding) with Hyundai to operate a test fleet of FCEVs whilst we continue to argue over the carbon-tax...