An air quality tests demonstrates the surprising benefits of hydrogen fuel cells on the environment
Jim Holder
7 August 2017

Chances are you know that a hydrogen fuel cell car produces only one tailpipe emission – water. And 
if you didn’t know, you soon would 
if you followed me in the ix35 FCV, with its side graphics and pertinent rear window statement, as well as an occasional but pronounced expulsion of water from the tailpipe. 

But the ix35 also purifies the air as it travels along, collecting harmful particulates and trapping them as a byproduct of the process of generating electricity via the hydrogen fuel stack’s inner workings. Keep the filters, humidifier and fuel cell stack properly serviced, and you can have a positive impact on local air quality. 

To demonstrate this, Hyundai 
has produced a video that involves filling a giant polythene ball with 
air, topping it up with a mixture of particulate pollutants of various sizes to match the equivalent of what a typical human would breathe in over 100 years and then sucking them through the ix35 FCV’s system. 

The expelled air is pumped out of the tailpipe into another polythene ball, which the firm’s senior R&D representative then sticks his head in and inhales enthusiastically. Bar water vapour, it’s entirely clean – and further proof that environmentally friendly transport needn’t be a myth. 

Price £53,105 (after £4500 gov’t grant) Price as tested £53,105 Economy na Faults None Expenses None Last seen 8.2.17 


The limitation of hydrogen fuel cells

The Hyundai is a remarkable car thanks to its hydrogen fuel cell, yet it is positively unremarkable to live with. For all the technical wizardry going on out of sight, I am going from A to B with scarcely a care in the world.

With the refuelling infrastructure in its infancy, there is the issue of range anxiety, but even that’s hardly an issue. I can comfortably get 200 miles from a tank, so I haven’t ventured beyond the Heathrow and Teddington fuel stations in southwest London. But should I need to, existing fuelling stations make trips to the south coast, west Wales or as far north as Sheffield possible.

But there are barriers, because, as with battery-electric cars’ charging points, not all fuelling stations are run by the same people or on the same terms. You need to pre-plan journeys and make sure you’re registered to access the fuelling stations, and therein lies an infrastructure challenge that needs addressing. I’ve no doubt the issue is holding back EV adoption, and it has the same potential to restrict the uptake of hydrogen cars.

Likewise, I’ve had to adapt to how the ix35 uses fuel. As you’d expect, as speeds rise, so does consumption. In Eco mode at 60mph on the motorway, it uses fuel pretty much as indicated – a mile for a mile – but go faster and it drains exponentially. The same is true of other EVs and, in truth, fossil fuel cars. Mentally adjusting to this has taken time, but there’s an argument that all drivers would do well to learn the lesson of haste versus speed and the economical and environmental benefits of it.

Refuelling is now second nature. It takes about seven minutes from activating the security gates to leaving again and, clanking and chugging of the pump aside, it’s very similar to refuelling the old-school way, and the per-mile cost is working out at the equivalent of about 60mpg.


Price £53,105 (after £4500 gov’t grant) Price as tested £53,105 Economy na Faults None Expenses None Last seen 18.1.17

Read our previous reports here:

Refuelling is child's play

First report

Our Verdict

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell

As Hyundai ramps up its hydrogen car production, can the ix35 gain some traction in the UK

Join the debate



12 June 2017
The title of the piece seems a little misleading, as the real problem appears to lie with the lack of hydrogen infrastructure, rather than with the fuel cell.

12 June 2017
Wind resistance increases with the square of speed, power requirement with the cube of speed while aerodynaamic drag overtakes rolling resistance at around 50mph for most cars. So is it any wonder that fuel consumption rises alarmingly with speed? For combustion engine cars this effect is offset by an engine that works more efficiently as load rises, so maybe it's not so noticeable.
As for driving, it's as well to remeber that a fuel cell car is just another electric car, but one which generates its electricity on board. So why should it drive any differently?
One thing both have in common is that presently they tend to be much heavier than combuustion engine cars. So there's a lot of energy wasted in transporting the vehicle mass around rather than the people they carry.

12 June 2017
I have more EV refuelling stations in my kitchen than there are hydrogen refuelling stations in the UK.
"equivalent of about 60mpg" ???? I'll like them to check their figures, at £10 a kilo there's no way it comes in at 60mpg, last Autocar review said "0.95kilo's of hydrogen did 62 miles and has a maximum tank capacity of 5.64kg of gas" no way does work out to 60mpg, in this review they did 200 miles before refuelling with 6KG (£60), even leaving £10 worth in the tank that works out as £50 for 200 miles (26 MPG)
"...learn the lesson of haste versus speed and the economical and environmental benefits" it takes 4-5 times more power to produce one kilo of hydrogen than fill up a 24kwh Leaf, compared to an EV it has no better environmental benefit than the ICE.

Truly pointless, £55,000 pointless in fact.


Hydrogen cars just went POP

7 August 2017

A Model 3, Next Gen Leaf or 2018 Ioniq could all out endure this Hydregen car. The EVs cost less to buy and fuel.

Clean air and enviroment? How many Kwh does it take to split water for 1Kg of H2? Then how many Kwh's to frezze it, squees it, lorry it, sink tanks into the ground, pump it into the tant then pump it into the car?

Why does no one applie the "long tail pipe" question to Hygregon cars? Like Electrisaty it all comes from some place.

7 August 2017
In past tests it's 27mpg at £10.00 a kilo. Regarding above question, it takes around 35Kwh JUST to produce a kilo of hydrogen, this would be enough to transport a Leaf around 150 miles i.e. 5-6 times further than an IX35 which incidently has the same size battery as a mk1 Leaf


Hydrogen cars just went POP

7 August 2017

The author must have realised he needs a new calculator.

Think about it, if it costs £56 to fill and "I can comfortably get 200 miles from a tank" say 250 to empty then that's 10.6 gallons worth of diesel per 250 miles.  250 divided by 10.6 works out to the equivalent 23 mpg.

Autocar stop misleading readers!


Hydrogen cars just went POP

7 August 2017

I remember The Flat Earth Society banging on about how useless electric cars were and how they'd never make sense. They also said that about diesel cars' power outputs and the disaster that was smog reduction in the 1970's. 150 bhp Corvette anyone?

With the speed that alternative power production from wind, sea and sun is going, there's a good chance that Hydrogen production costs will drop through the floor in the next decade. We might not gain much benefit from solar power but there are a lot of countries that do.

What do you expect them to do? Sit on their hands until the cost drops?

7 August 2017

I can't believe any society would be stupid enough to think the Electric car wouldn't succeed after Telsa brought the Model S out oh well that's them quietened

But regardless of how electricity is produced the costs won’t not plummet! That's one of the many reasons why the EV has beaten the hydrogen car, it's cheaper to run, faster, cheaper to buy, more space efficient, simplier etc.

EV's are the way forward, flat earth society are in lala land


Hydrogen cars just went POP

7 August 2017

Fuel cell cars ARE EVs !! As others have said, its early days yet, we dont know whats gonna happen and besides many countries have enough sun to split hydrogen for free, so fuel cells will have their place in cars. For aircraft, ships and possibly trucks batteries will either NEVER be feasible (too heavy, too short a range) or it will be 50 odd years before they do, so fuel cells are the only answer.

8 August 2017
typos1 wrote:

Fuel cell cars ARE EVs !! As others have said, its early days yet, we dont know whats gonna happen and besides many countries have enough sun to split hydrogen for free, so fuel cells will have their place in cars. For aircraft, ships and possibly trucks batteries will either NEVER be feasible (too heavy, too short a range) or it will be 50 odd years before they do, so fuel cells are the only answer.

"early days", using hydrogen as a fuel was done about 15 years ago by BMW it failed and they switched to proper EV's, of course battery planes aren't possible so for that there's oil, but for most car journies there's the battery. 


Hydrogen cars just went POP


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