Let me be right up front about something. I spent all of 15 minutes with the 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, just enough time to get a sense of what it’s like to drive, how comfortable it is, and how practical it could be if only there were a dang hydrogen infrastructure to support it. This review is less about the Tucson Fuel Cell in particular and more about fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in general, using this Hyundai as an illustration to explain the technology, how it works, and what it’s like when you drive the vehicle.
My Tucson Fuel Cell test drive opportunity came in conjunction with a California workshop called Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology In Your Neighborhood, during which car companies, civic and business leaders, and fire safety officials gathered to talk about existing hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles, the future of the technology, the infrastructure required to support it, and what the consequences of inaction will be if the world does not rapidly adopt a zero-emission mentality.
Of course, as I write this, it is snowing upon my fellow Autobytelians as they attend the 2014 New York Auto Show, and Detroit just broke its all-time record for the snowiest winter ever. With this kind of weather, talk of global warming frequently falls on deaf ears. I’m in the Los Angeles suburbs, though, where a few days ago temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees in parts of the region, a portion of the U.S. that saw just a quarter of its already meager annual rainfall this past year.
Let’s forget about local weather patterns, though. After all, the United States accounts for just 2 percent of the world’s surface area. Ask the experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) about global trends, and it says that the 10 warmest years for the entire planet have occurred since 1998, and in every year since 1976 Earth’s average annual temperature has been above the long-term average.
Also in the news this week, a United Nations report warning that if human beings don’t do something now to curb the effects of global warming – we’re past being able to stop it – the ultimate costs of inaction will be far more substantial than getting off of our collective butts (right this instant, Mister) and doing anything to stop puffing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere like a drunk uncle blowing smoke rings from a big, fat, stinky cigar.
That brings us full circle to the 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, which will be available in very limited quantities in a handful of Southern California zip codes through only a few Hyundai dealerships. It might not be much, but it is a start.