Hyundai Motor Company and UTC Fuel Cells have today signed an agreement to jointly develop a new automotive fuel cell power plant capable of operating in freezing conditions, one of the remaining hurdles in the development of fuel cells for cars. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
The agreement calls for Hyundai and UTC Fuel Cells to work jointly to develop a freeze-capable fuel cell power plant and integrate it into a Hyundai sport utility vehicle platform. Hyundai plans to make fuel cell vehicles available for lease by fleet operators by 2004.
Fuel cell power plants, which combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity without environmentally harmful emissions, produce and consume water. One key challenge in developing fuel cells for transportation applications is starting fuel cells after the water in a system has frozen.
‘Hyundai is dedicated to developing commercially viable, zero-emission vehicles and our agreement with UTC Fuel Cells brings us one step closer to our goal,’ said Dong Jin Kim, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor Company. ‘By 2004, Hyundai will be testing and evaluating the performance of fuel cell vehicles in fleet applications, allowing us to further refine the application of fuel cells for every-day transportation.’
UTC Fuel Cells and Hyundai have worked together on fuel cell vehicle development since 2000, when the companies unveiled the first Hyundai Santa Fe fuel cell SUV at the California Fuel Cell Partnership opening ceremonies. A total of six Hyundai fuel cell Santa Fe prototypes were produced under the previous agreement.
Hyundai expects to place fuel cell vehicles into fleet applications beginning as early as 2004, with limited consumer availability planned for 2010.