Hyundai-Kia to begin production of fuel cell models within the next two years

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 27, 2010

Within the next two years, Hyundai-Kia will start low-volume production of at least one fuel cell model. However, Hyundai-Kia, Korea's largest automotive group, has yet to announce if this car will have a Hyundai or a Kia badge.

What's definite is that it will be a hydrogen-powered version of an existing model. And it won't be a fuel cell-only one similar to Honda's FCX Clarity. 

In an interview with Autocar, Byung Ki Ahn, general manager of Hyundai-Kia's Fuel Cell Group said that agreements are in place between carmakers and legislators in Europe, North America and Japan to lead to the mass production of fuel cell cars by 2015. Improvements will be made on this model's hydrogen production capacity and refueling infrastructure.

Ahn said that Hyundai aims to be "at the vanguard of the move to hydrogen." Ahn added that pilot-scale production of 1,000 fuel cell cars annually will start within a couple of years.

He said that this first batch of cars will likely be leased and not purchased outright. Doing this will enable the company to make the final stages of development advance further before it starts commercial production of about 10,000 hydrogen cars a year in 2015.

Hyundai's position on fuel cells is expected to be strengthened with having its own fuel cell stack, which it started developing since 2005. In the last three years, the company has made significant strides in this endeavor.

Take for example, the Kia Borrego FCV, which was completed in 2008. It boasts of having a cruising range of 460 miles, more than double that of the group's 2006 Sportage FCEV.

The Borrego FCV has an operational life of about 10 years, which is more than three times the life of the Sportage. The Borrrego FCV is equipped with a 115kW fuel cell stack that has 100kW of electrical assistance from a supercapacitor, as well as a 700bar hydrogen tank.

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