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by Tim Beissmann

Hyundai says it will become the first global manufacturer to begin a commercial rollout of hydrogen-powered vehicles, with the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell set to enter production later this year.

The first ix35 Fuel Cell SUVs will leave Hyundai’s South Korean assembly plant in Ulsan in December.

The brand has an initial target of selling 1000 Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cells by 2015, and has already signed contracts with cities in Denmark and Sweden to lease the vehicles to municipal fleets.

Longer term, Hyundai vice chairman Woong Chul Yang said the company plans to build up to 10,000 of the first-generation hydrogen vehicles based on the manufacturer’s mid-sized SUV.

“The ix35 Fuel Cell is the pinnacle of Hyundai’s advanced engineering and our most powerful commitment to be the industry leader in eco-friendly mobility,” he said.

“Zero-emissions cars are no longer a dream. Our ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle is here today, and ready for commercial use.”

The Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell employs a fuel cell stack to convert hydrogen into electricity, which in turn is used to charge a lithium-polymer battery that powers the vehicle’s electric motor that then spins the wheels. The only emission generated by the reaction is water vapour.

Hyundai says the ix35 Fuel Cell boasts similar performance and driveability to the conventional petrol-powered model. It accelerates from 0-100km/h in 12.5 seconds and powers on to a top speed of 160km/h.

It has a range of 588km, and – like the petrol version – refuelling from empty takes just minutes.

The Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell benefits from a new Santa Fe-inspired front grille and a number of other subtle styling tweaks to differentiate it from the standard internal combustion-engined models and previous test vehicles.

Hyundai says the ix35 Fuel Cell is the result of 14 years of significant financial investment and research and development work by hundreds of engineers, who clocked more than 3.2 million kilometres of real-world testing across South Korea, Europe and the US.




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