Asian automakers round out WAS media morning with fuel-cell and EV technologies

Asian automakers round out WAS media morning with fuel-cell and EV technologies

Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell: Ready for showrooms this spring

Hyundai and Toyota both showed off fuel-cell cars at the show. Hyundai had a Tucson Fuel Cell, which will be on showroom floors late this spring.

Hyundai has already reduced its engine size and light weighted its vehicles, said Mike OBrien, vice president of corporate and product planning. But in California, the California Air Resources Board has mandated an 80 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. That means manufacturers need to build more electric vehicles. Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) are on the road now, but they have problems with range anxiety and a long charging time, OBrien noted. The other choice is to make electricity on board, as hydrogen fuel-cells do. They have a range of 300 miles and can refuel in five minutes and the technology is scalable to any size or type vehicle, said OBrien.

In a few months, the Fuel Cell Tucson will be available in Southern California, for lease only, with $2,990 down and $499 a month, to include fuel and service for the life of the car. Infrastructure remains a problem, with only a few hydrogen fuel cell stations in California and none elsewhere, but California Governor Jerry Brown signed an agreement last fall to build 100 more stations, OBrien said.

We will expand outside California when fuel stations are available, he said.

Toyota fuel-cell concept: waiting for infrastructure

There are two challenges for fuel-cell vehicles, Toyota Business Strategy Chief Nihar Patel told reporters at the WAS: price and infrastructure. Great strides have been made in cutting costs, including a 95 percent reduction in the cost of the powertrain.

We recognize that the success of the car will depend less on the genius of the car than the ownership experience, said Patel. And a big part of that will be refueling the cars. But Patel said the location of the stations is more important than their numbers. California has agreed to build 20 stations by 2015, 40 by 2016 and 100 by 2025.

Patel did not give a timeline for when Toyotas fuel-cell vehicle would hit the streets. Fuel-cell vehicles will come to market whenever there is infrastructure to support them. In the interim, he said, we have asked headquarters for substantially increased volume.

Toyota fuel-cell concept: waiting for infrastructure

Nissan has met its goal of doubling the number of electric vehicle fast-charger stations a year ahead of schedule, said Brendan Jones, director of electric vehicle infrastructure strategy for Nissan, at the WAS. Last year, it had 198 stations. Today there are 570 stations across the U.S. at 130 Nissan dealerships and in workplaces and communities. The stations can charge a Nissan Leaf to 80 percent of capacity in

30 minutes. Several are in the Washington area.

Nissan also told reporters that it has partnered with FedEx to start testing the Nissan e-NV200, an electric compact cargo vehicle, on the streets of Washington. The vehicle, on display in Nissans WAS exhibit, will undergo field tests that subject it to the routine requirements of a delivery vehicle, said Erik Gottfried, director of electric vehicle sales and marketing. The results will be used to help determine the viability of using an electric vehicle in a delivery fleet in the United States. Nissan is scheduled to begin mass production of the e-NV200 later this year in Europe.

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