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The World’s First Mass-Production of FCEV
Hyundai Motor commences the production of fuel cell electric vehicle, Tucson ix, from this month, two years ahead of global rivals
The World’s First Mass-Production of FCEV
  • By matthew
  • February 28, 2013, 11:35
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For the first time in the world, Hyundai Motor will launch mass-production of fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV).

The Korean auto giant held a ceremony to celebrate the world’s first mass-production of FCEV at its Ulsan plant on February 26 and commenced production of Tucson ix, a hydrogen fuel-cell model the company developed based on its in-house technologies.

The car manufacturer, which built up a system for mass production of such vehicles for the first time in the world, plans to secure a leading position in technology competition with rival automakers by selling 1,000 units around the world including Europe. Its global competitors such as Benz, GM, and Toyota are due to launch large-scale production after 2015, which gives the Korean firm a chance to move ahead of those rivals by at least two years. As mass-production has become a reality thanks to its technological prowess and production expertise, Hyundai is expected to move a step closer to ushering in a new era of global environment-friendly vehicles.

In order to ensure a successful mass production of FCEV, the company set up a separate production plant designed exclusively for the production of such vehicles within the Ulsan plant applying new production techniques. The carmaker also made sure its products are of high quality by operating hydrogen gas filling and leak test facilities for completed vehicles.

The company will commence the mass-production of FCEV from the end of this month, and will produce and supply a total of 1,000 units to customers both at home and abroad, taking aim first at Europe, for example, supplying 15 such units to Copenhagen, Denmark in April and two to Skåne, Sweden.

Tucson ix is equipped with the 100kW fuel cell system and 2-tank hydrogen storage system (700 atmospheric pressure) designed entirely in-house. The model can run up to 593 km with a single charge of the battery. It is equivalent to 27.8 km/liter in gasoline mileage (based on European gas mileage determined by the New European Driving Cycle or NEDC). The model is also one of the world’s most efficient vehicles: it can start even in temperatures as low as 20 degrees below zero.

Hyundai unveiled Santafe, its first FCEV, in November 2000, two years after launching development efforts in 1998. Tucson model was created in 2006 based on its in-house technologies, and Tucson ix FCEV, a third-generation model, grabbed attention making its first appearance at the Geneva Motor Show held in March, 2010.

The new model enhanced the commercial value with the radiator grill bumper, fog lamp, supervision cluster, and 7-inch navigation, an array of features newly designed just for FCEV. Also, by applying a system similar in size to the existing gasoline-powered engine through modularization of fuel cell system comprised of core parts of such vehicles, including fuel cell stack, driving device, and inverter, the new model also improved productivity and maintenance convenience.

Earlier this year, Tucson iX model became No. 1, winning “2013 Future Auto Awards,” at the motor show held in Brussels, Belgium, beating out worthy rivals such as Benz, Volvo, and Bosch. In Europe, the new model’s technological ingenuity and commercial value are increasingly being recognized, as evidenced by the company’s being chosen as a test-drive operator and entering into a contract to supply government vehicles.

In a speech he gave at the ceremony, Kim Eok-jo, vice president of Hyundai Motor, said, “I expect that the world’s first-ever mass-production of fuel cell electric vehicles will help us bring in a new era of eco-friendly cars faster than originally forecasted,” and went onto say, “Going forward, based on strong development competitiveness, we will continuously make efforts to transform ourselves into a leader in technology and production in the field of eco-friendly cars, which is a future growth engine.”