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Publication date: 15-June-04
Source: Hart Energy Publishing

Hyundai Motor Co. plans to have a U.S. demonstration fleet of 32 fuel cell vehicles, all based on its recently unveiled Tucson SUV fuel cell vehicle. The Tucson features an on-board hydrogen storage tank that supplies fuel to an 80 kilowatt fuel cell manufactured by UTC Fuel Cells, a subsidiary of United Technologies.

The Tucson SUV is Hyundai's second-generation fuel cell vehicle, the first being the Santa Fe, which was unveiled in 2000. The first prototype vehicle located the power plant under the floor and had more limited range and operating capabilities.

Hyundai's fuel cell task team relocated Tucson's power plant under the hood, and the vehicle is capable of starting and operating in sub-zero temperatures, the manufacturer said. The Tucson will have an extended driving range of 186 miles, and it incorporates a new lithium ion polymer battery.

"Entering this new phase of our program is really quite exciting because we will be able to build fuel cell vehicles in higher volumes for fleet testing applications," said Kim Sang-Kwon, president of research and development for Hyundai Kia Motors. "It also brings is one step closer to the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles."

Tucson's hydrogen storage tanks were developed by Dynetek Industries Ltd. of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Enova systems of Torrance, Calif., will provide the next-generation hybrid electric drive train, motor and control unit. The high-voltage battery was co-developed by Hyundai and LG Chem in Seoul, South Korea.

Hyundai, a participant in the U.S. Department of Energy's Hydrogen Fleet and Infrastructure Demonstration and Validation Project, will focus its fleet applications in the U.S. The automaker expects to demonstrate 32 fuel cell vehicles under the five-year, government-industry program (see Octane Week, 5/3/04).

"Our plans currently are for all future fuel cell vehicles to be based on the Tucson SUV platform," said Hyundai spokesperson Kevin Oates.

Commercialization is still a distant goal for Hyndai and most automakers. "We expect to have a very limited amount of cars available for consumers even by 2010," said Oates. The lack of a hydrogen distribution network is a top impediment, he said.
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