Hyundai preps a cleaner car for Australia with hydrogen

Petrol isn’t good for the environment, and it is on its way out. You’ve heard of solar cars, electric cars, and soon you’ll be able to drive a water car, with Hyundai showing Australia what it believes will be the next generation of clean cars.

A world without a dependency on fossil fuels for automobiles may well be coming, finally, with electric cars already in the market about to be joined by a new kind of clean car.

That car is one that can emit water vapour instead of black smog, as Hyundai delivers the first generation of a hydrogen-based car to Australia to start demos for the technology.

“In February 2013, Hyundai Motor Company became the first automobile manufacturer in the world to begin mass-production of a hydrogen-powered vehicle – the ix35 Fuel Cell,” said Mr Charlie Kim, Chief Executive Officer at Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA).

“This gave HMCA the ability to order a Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle in the same way as we order any other new Hyundai car,” said Kim. “Now we have one, and we believe this fantastic car will help demonstrate the potential of hydrogen as a green transport solution for Australia.”

The technology isn’t one specific to Hyundai, with BMW showing one years ago, and the technology worked on by the likes of Honda, Mercedes-Benz, and General Motors, to name but a few, but Hyundai’s importing of a hydrogen car signals that the company is getting ready for an actual release, with a view to getting the cars out into the world before the end of the current decade, 2020.

“Ultimately, we see no reason why Australians should not enjoy the same environmental solutions as consumers in other markets,” said Kim.

One of the solutions is a highway equipped with several hydrogen fuel pumps, making it viable for owners of these cars to drive the stretch of the road without fear of running out of fuel, because if it happens, you’ll find the car will keep some charge and allow a small distance with the battery, but that the car will need fuel for serious range.

“We are not a political entity, nor are we aligned with any political party,” continued Kim, “however, we have seen in other countries that governments play a crucial role in developing hydrogen refuelling infrastructure.” To that end, HMCA’s Fuel Cell Team has visited Canberra on a number of occasions over the last two years to brief Federal Ministers about our hydrogen car. The reaction has been very positive.

“One of our proposals was the ‘Hume by Hydrogen’, which could link Australia’s two largest cities via the nation’s capital. It would require refuelling stations in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and in between, and could see hydrogen vehicles, including buses, running on the Hydrogen Highway emitting nothing but water vapour.”

As for how the engine works, a question you’re probably interested in, Hyundai has sent through a little infographic which we’re showing below, but basically, we’re talking about a reaction of air and hydrogen in the fuel cell generating electricity and water, with the water being sent out the back of the car and the electricity being used to power the motor.

This means the car is powered not by any of the stuff found at the local bowser, but rather a specific hydrogen-based fuel, and for the initial demo cars, Hyundai has built a hydrogen refuelling station (HRS) in Macquarie Park that will take fuel produced by Coregas Australia, with a view to building a special hydrogen fuel creation pump in Australia that will make the hydrogen-based petrol solely using solar power.

Refuelling a car will take between three and seven minutes thanks to a smaller refuelling pump measured at 5,000PSI, different to the larger 10,000 PSI fuel systems used by conventional petrol stations, with the small pump delivering enough fuel to let the case go on around 300km of driving.

That said, Hyundai has tested the car to go further, with a test in Norway earlier in the year showing the tank in the ix35 can go as long as 700km, pushing beyond the official maximum range of 594km.

“A project like ‘Hume by Hydrogen’ would surely demonstrate the benefits of hydrogen transport very effectively – we want our ix35 Fuel Cell to start a meaningful conversation about a hydrogen infrastructure in Australia for the benefit of future generations,” said Kim.

In Australia, the Hyundai ix35 is more of a demo and test than anything else, with the first car (and later on cars) being used to demonstrate the technology to people ahead of an expected release of around 2017 or 2018.

Before release, more work will have to be done to install more hydrogen pumps around the country, and with prices stretching from $350,000 for a basic pump to $1,800,000 for a system that will make its own fuel, this isn’t the sort of technology all petrol stations will naturally be running out and acquiring.

But it is coming, and Hyundai does have a plan, with a right-hand drive model in the works with the next generation of the ix35 Fuel Cell technology, so just hold on until Hyundai irons the bugs and finds a way to make water a friend of the car.