To demonstrate this is no flash in the pan with more than 1000 made in 2015, and 250 in active service throughout 11 European countries, including in the UK, as it aims to ramp up its production to 10,000 hydrogen-powered ix35s. We have even tested the technology by running one on our own long-term fleet to see how feasible it really is.
Plug-in electric cars may have been hogging the environmentally friendly limelight in recent years, but Hyundai is adamant that the range, usability and edible emissions of hydrogen fuel cells make it the long-term alternative technology to pursue, especially with the arrival of the Toyota Mirai and the Honda Clarity FCV set arrive later in 2017.
Hyundai says it started researching hydrogen fuel cells as a viable powertrain back in 1998 and produced the first prototype in 2001. Based on the Santa Fe, the 2001 concept had a 75kW fuel cell, a 72-litre gas tank, a top speed of 77mph and a range of around 99 miles.
The 2007 Tucson-based prototype had a 100kW fuel cell, a 152-litre gas tank, a 93mph top speed and a 186-mile range. Today’s car, based on the ix35 SUV has a 100kW fuel cell equivalent to 134bhp, a 144 litre of hydrogen capacity in two tanks, a 100mph top speed and a range of 369 miles.
Getting under the ix35 Fuel Cell’s skin
From the inside and outside - aside from a slightly smaller boot - the ix35 is completely conventional, down to the standard-issue autobox shift lever. Under the skin, however, it is completely new.
The fuel, compressed hydrogen at a pressure of 700 bar, is housed in two gas cylinders in place of a conventional petrol tank – a smaller 40-litre unit in front of the rear axle and a 104-litre tank behind the rear axle.
A fuel cell is mounted under the bonnet. The hybrid battery packs are located under the vehicle, positioned in the centre for weight distribution. Inside the fuel cell, an anode and cathode sandwich, and a polymer electrolyte membrane.
When the hydrogen flows over the anode, it splits into hydrogen protons and electrons. The polymer electrolyte membrane only allows the protons to pass through. The electrons travel to an external circuit which operates the motor. At the cathode, electrons and protons react with oxygen from the air to create water as a by-product of the process. Hyundai claims the driving range is 369 miles on a tank of gas.