Hyundai IX35 Fuel Cell enters production

Article by Christian A., on March 1, 2013

Hyundai’s manufacturing facility in Ulsan has built a white Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle – marking the start of assembly-line production of zero-emissions, hydrogen-powered vehicles for fleet use. This makes Hyundai the first automaker in the world to have assembly-line production for this type of vehicle. Hyundai Motor Company’s Plant No. 5 rolled out the ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle, which is based on the brand’s ix35, C-segment SUV, at a launch event.

Hyundai intends to produce 1,000 ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles by 2015 to be leased to public and private fleets, located mainly in Europe, where the European Union has set up a hydrogen road map and has started building hydrogen fueling stations. Hyundai will start to make hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for consumer retail sales by 2015, with reduced auto production costs and the additional development of hydrogen infrastructure.

Hydrogen powers Hyundai’s ix35 Fuel Cell, which was built using proprietary technology. Hydrogen is converted into electricity with the use of a fuel cell stack. This will then run the car’s motor.

Water is the only emission from this ix35 Fuel Cell. Hyundai claims that the drivability and performance that’s a result of the ix35 Fuel Cell is comparable to that of the petrol ix35. The ix35 Fuel Cell’s marketability is enhanced with the development and use of a new radiator grille, bumper, fog lamps, instrument cluster and 7-inch GPS exclusively for the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

In addition, the modularisation of fuel cell systems for the core part of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, including the fuel cell stack, driving device and inverter, permitted the engine to be downsized in order to suit the petrol engine’s size while boosting productivity and raising the convenience for maintenance. In just a few minutes, the ix35 Fuel Cell can be refueled with hydrogen. It can go from zero to 100 km/h in 12.5 seconds and it can reach a 160 km/h top speed. On a single charge, the car gets a range of 594 kilometers.

Hyundai’s ix35 Fuel Cell is the South Korean carmaker’s third generation of fuel cell-powered electric vehicle (FCEV). It follows the tracks of the Santa Fe FCEV in 2000 (first-gen Hyundai FCEV) and the Tucson FCEV (second-gen Hyundai FCEV) in 2005.

The Santa Fe FCEV allowed Hyundai to become a global leader in the hydrogen fuel cell technology, operating the largest fuel-cell research center in South Korea. The Tucson FCEV followed, featuring Hyundai’s first 80 kW (109 hp) fuel cell. Now, the ix35 Fuel Cell retains the performance, convenience as well as functions and safety of the regular ix35, but without having to emit harmful emissions.

Compared to the Tucson FCEV, the ix35 Fuel Cell is over 15 percent more fuel efficient, with a driving range that has been extended by over 50 percent. Taking care of the propulsion for the ix35 Fuel Cell is a 100-kW (136 hp) electric motor that allows it to go as fast as 160 km/h. This motor gets its juice from a 24 kW lithium-ion polymer battery, which in turn derives its energy from two hydrogen storage tanks with a total capacity of 5.64 kg. These tanks allow the ix35 Fuel Cell to travel up to 594 km on a single charge, with the ability to start in temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius.

Theoretically, fuel cells could transform chemical energy from hydrogen into electromechanical energy. A fuel cell contains a polymer electrolyte membrane that is squeezed in between an anode and cathode. First, hydrogen gas flows over the anode, which splits it into protons and electrons. The polymer electrolyte membrane filters the electrons – which goes into an external circuit that operates the electric motor – while allowing only the protons to pass through. Electrons and protons react with oxygen (from air) at the cathode, thereby combining to become water – the only waste product from the entire process.

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