Competes with: Toyota RAV4 EV
Looks like: Your average, ordinary, everyday Hyundai Tucson
Drivetrain: Electric motor making 221 pounds-feet of torque, powered by an onboard hydrogen fuel cell and lithium-ion battery
Hits dealerships: Spring 2014, Los Angeles and Orange, Calif., counties only
For years we have seen concept car after concept car powered by hydrogen fuel cells - electric cars that use onboard sources of electricity generated from hydrogen instead of from a land-based grid. But now Hyundai says it is ready to offer a production-ready fuel-cell electric vehicle to the public as early as next year.
The company has built the powertrain into its Tucson compact SUV and has announced that the car will be available for lease by anyone who wants one starting in spring of 2014. The catch: It will only be available in Southern California to residents of Los Angeles and Orange counties. The move is meant to tie into a recent multimillion-dollar push by the state of California to proliferate hydrogen fueling stations throughout the region. It's a chicken-and-egg scenario - it's hard to introduce a production fuel-cell car without a hydrogen infrastructure to fuel it, but if there aren't any fuel-cell cars available for consumers to buy, there's little call to develop that infrastructure.