Hyundai Motor Co believes hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are the future for eco-friendly cars despite challenges of limited infrastructure and slow sales. South Korea’s largest automaker has sold or leased 273 Tucson fuel cell SUVs since beginning production in 2013, lower than its 1,000 target, mostly in Europe and California. Fuel cell cars represent a bigger opportunity than electric cars because competition is less fierce. Hydrogen-powered cars also give more flexibility to designers. They can be scaled to big vehicles such as buses as well as small cars.
They can also be refueled as quickly as gasoline cars while traveling more miles than electric vehicles. The Tucson’s Europe model, called ix35 Fuel Cell, can travel up to 594 kilometers (369 miles) while its U.S. model travels up to 265 miles (426 kilometers) on one charge. It emits water vapor and no greenhouse gases.
High prices and the dearth of fueling stations are barriers to sales of fuel cell vehicles. Hyundai said it will be another 10 years before hydrogen cars start gaining wider acceptance. In the meantime, sales of eco-friendly cars are dominated by hybrid models such as Toyota’s Prius and electric vehicles such as Nissan’s Leaf, which are more affordable than fuel cell cars.
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