Hyundai Unveils Tucson / ix35 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle
Hyundai unveiled its Tucson/ ix35 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show today, moving another step closer to the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.
As the latest addition to Hyundai’s growing line-up of eco-focused Blue DriveTM vehicles, the Tucson / ix35 FCEV incorporates several important innovations over the previous generation Tucson FCEV. And with these improvements, Hyundai is set to meet its goal of ramping up production volume of FCEVs into the thousands by 2012 thereby providing the automotive industry’s ultimate solution to the problem of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
Key innovations include:
Adoption of metallic separators (bipolar plates) in the Hyundai fuel cell stack, the “engine” or core component which generates electricity. Metallic separators replace graphite which is extremely difficult and expensive to manufacture. The metallic separators dramatically reduce the cost of the fuel cell stack and simplify the fuel cell manufacturing process.
Advances in modularization which simplifies final assembly: Fuel cell engineers at the company’s Eco-Tech Research and Development Centre in Mabuk, Korea have succeeded in taking complex arrays of components and combining them into simpler modules, improving production scalability. As a result, the man-hours required to assemble an FCEV have been drastically reduced, making it economically feasible to ramp up production into the thousands.
Adoption of 21kW LiPoly electrical storage battery in place of super capacitors: LiPoly storage batteries are already in mass production and with the improved economies of scale, LiPoly technology can now be cost-effectively applied to FCEVs thereby lowering their overall cost.
Adoption of induction motor instead of permanent magnet-type motor for cost benefits. Even with the slight decrease in overall vehicle efficiency associated with induction motors, their use will offset the cost risk associated with magnetic motors which depend on rare earth elements whose prices have soared in recent years because of their scarcity and high demand.
By 2012, Hyundai plans to begin manufacturing FCEVs in the low thousands and delivering them to fleet customers in Korea.