The design and body of Hyundai's second-gen hydrogen fuel-cell powered SUV available to the public has been confirmed, and the model will arrive by the end of the decade, replacing the current Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell.
With a production run of 10-15,000 units needed to be commercially viable over its four-year production run - but no official production number confirmed - "as many as possible" of the as-yet unnamed ix35 Fuel Cell successor will make it to the UK, according to Hyundai product PR manager Robin Hayles. Production numbers, however, are strictly dependent on demand, therefore scalable production will be used.
There are currently 250 Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell cars on European roads, including 15 in the UK. A large number of these are owned by companies with a vested interest in hydrogen fuel cell vehicle technology. The next car will be targeted more towards the public, with a much smaller percentage of sales expected to be from non-private buyers. This suggests a lower price than the £53,105 of the ix35 Fuel Cell, which will be achieved by using a higher proportion of Hyundai parts, rather than those sourced from specialist manufacturers.
Scalable production methods mean that the number quoted for production could grow considerably, depending on demand. The model is also expected to be an SUV similar in size to the ix35, but it will focus on weight reduction over the current car rather than further honing of the powertrain technology.
The ix35's replacement will be the sixth generation of hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that Hyundai has tested, but only the second generation to be commercially available. The replacement for the ix35 will make up part of the Hyundai Group's planned hydrogen fuel cell vehicle offensive.
The design and body have already been signed off, and although specifications of the car are a closely guarded secret, Hayles revealed that demand from customers for more options and choice on the £53,105 ix35 Fuel Cell has driven Hyundai to offer the ix35 in blue and red in addition to the standard white. Despite the initial production of left-hand drive models, the ix35 Fuel Cell's replacement is likely to also be offered in right-hand drive format, but again, this is not a dead-cert.
Hyundai aims for hydrogen success
The success of the 2017 model in the UK is to be determined by customer demand, which Hyundai hopes will be drummed up by events that will raise public awareness of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. In spite of recent publicity surrounding the variety of powertrains offered with the new Hyundai Ioniq, the new fuel cell-powered car will not carry the Ioniq badge and is being developed as a standalone vehicle.
Despite Hyundai's involvement with hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles, the firm has ruled out any investment in the hydrogen refuelling infrastructure the near future. However, Hayles confirmed that infrastructure is one of the contributory factors to fuel cell vehicles' limited success when compared with their battery EV counterparts.