Southern California is home to more than movie stars and endless beaches – it’s also the residence of brown, smog-filled skies and permanent traffic jams. And anyone who has visited the area can attest to its residents' love of spacious new vehicles. So, it’s appropriate that Hyundai chose southern California as one of the locations to test the Tucson FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle), a roomy SUV that generates no air pollutants.
What’s a Fuel Cell?
In contrast, the new Tucson FCEV was developed in tandem with the production Tucson, so engineers had more flexibility with the Tucson FCEV's design. The result is a hydrogen-based system that is mostly isolated to the engine compartment, leaving more interior room for passengers and cargo.
Electric power comes from a lithium-ion polymer battery unit, which is housed in the rear of the vehicle. Also, the hydrogen storage tank is much larger in the Tucson FCEV, which provides a 186-mile cruising range. But, what is probably most noteworthy is the fact that the Tucson FCEV will start in temperatures as low as 20 degrees below zero (Celsius), a significant accomplishment for a system that relies upon water, which freezes at zero Celsius.
Aside from the big FCEV letters plastered on its flanks, this fuel-cell vehicle looks like a regular ol' Tucson. However, in an effort to keep the curb weight down the body panels are made of aluminum. Differences between this concept and a production vehicle will also likely be obvious from behind the wheel, as the powertrain only cranks out about 100 horsepower and provides the Hyundai Tucson FCEV with a top speed of 93 mph.
If the Tucson FCEV is successful, future Hyundais could help make smoggy skies cleaner and greener, erasing one negative of gridlocked traffic.
Photos courtesy of Hyundai