SUVs with fuel cells

At the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show this month, Hyundai unveiled its second-generation fuel cell vehicle – the Tucson FCEV. The new SUV can be started even after long periods in the cold.

At the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show this month, Hyundai unveiled its second-generation fuel cell vehicle – the Tucson FCEV.

The new vehicle has a driving range double that of Hyundai’s first-generation vehicle, the Santa Fe FCEV, and maximum speed and power have both increased to improve the overall performance.

And, in what the company is claiming as a technology breakthrough, the SUV is one of the first fuel cell vehicles capable of starting in freezing temperatures – it is capable of starting after being subjected to -20C temperatures for five days. Other technical advancements including a higher output fuel cell and a new lithium ion polymer battery.

The Tucson FCEV’s power plant has been relocated under the front hood, unlike its predecessor, which was integrated into the floorpan. What’s more, the vehicle’s driving range has been extended to 300 km (186 miles) thanks to its 152-litre (40-gallon) hydrogen storage tanks developed by Dynetek Industries of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. By contrast, the Santa Fe FCEV lacked cold weather start capability and is equipped with a 72-litre fuel tank.

Marginally lighter than its predecessor, the Tucson FCEV also gets five more kW of power for a peak output of 80kW. Its maximum speed is rated at 150km/h (93 mph) compared to the Santa Fe’s 124km/h (77 mph).

As in the Santa Fe FCEV, Hyundai has once again partnered with UTC Fuel Cells of South Windsor, CT to supply the hydrogen-powered fuel cell. Enova Systems, of Torrance, CA, has been tapped to provide the next generation hybrid-electric drive train, motor and control unit. The Hyundai Tucson FCEV 152V high voltage battery was co-developed by Hyundai LG Chem in Seoul, Korea.

With this working model, Hyundai will begin fleet testing in just three months supported by a grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE). Fleets will eventually operate out of AC Transit of Oakland, CA, Hyundai American Technical Center and Southern California Edison.

In related news, fuel cell developer Nuvera and battery maker East Penn Manufacturing are to jointly develop a hybrid battery/fuel cell electric ‘engine’ to power lift trucks and other off-road industrial vehicles.

According to an agreement signed between the two, East Penn and Nuvera will engage in an exclusive three-phase, two-year joint development to build an engine which, like lead-acid batteries, is emission-free.

The engine, which could potentially be used in the material handling and the airport ground support systems, will be designed to refuel in minutes and be interchangeable with standard battery trays used today.

Last November, Nuvera delivered one of its H2E hydrogen powered fuel cell system power modules to The Toro Company who plan to evaluate it for potential use in its professional grounds and turf care equipment.