Fuel cells are back in the news, with Toyota revealing the FCV concept and Tesla CEO Elon Musk comparing fuel cells to bovine excrement. Now Hyundai says that they are preparing an electrically driven CUV powered by a fuel cell for a North American debut next year. Just before he was apparently forced to resign over quality control issues, Kwon Moon-sik, Hyundai Motor Group’s president of r&d, told Automotive News that the Korean automaker sees fuel cells and not batteries as the future for EVs. He said that money is the reason, seeing greater opportunities to reduce the cost of hydrogen fuel cells than batteries.
“There is no problem with the technology — only with the cost and profitability,” Kwon said of battery EVs. “We cannot make a profit with them.”
Besides Hyundai and Toyota, Honda, Daimler, General Motors, Ford and Nissan have announced plans to have more hydrogen powered vehicles on the road by the end of this decade. When Toyota puts the FCV into production, it will cost just 5-10% of the cost of their first fuel cell vehicle in 2007, which was said to cost the Japanese automaker a million dollars each. By 2020, Toyota predicts, fuel cell production costs will fall by half again.
Hyundai’s fuel cell vehicle will be based on the Tucson compact crossover, with plans to make 1,000 vehicles for sale around the world by 2015.