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RPM TV Website | August 8, 2020

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Hydrogen fuel cells power makes a come back

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell
Adam Schoeman

Before electric and hybrid electric vehicles became an every day part of life, there was another power source that promised to power our cars guilt free till the end of time: The hydrogen fuel cell.

That was of course the plan, but it has not really materialised. BMW is a great example as they once had a 7-series concept that had been modified to accept hydrogen power as opposed to its petrol engine, but the car never made it to the mass market.

On the other hand, the Active3 and Active5 have both been around for a few months and the new i8 and i3 electric hybrids only cement in fact that battery powered hybrids have won the alternative power source market.

But a consortium consisting of Honda, BMW, Daimler, Toyota and Hyundai have decided to change that and have agree to try and bring 110 Hydrogen-powered vehicles to the European market.

This might sound like another one of those industry joint ventures, but Hyundai are the first of the Hyfive project to put something on the show room, and in this case its an ix35.

Powered by Hydrogen fuel cells which drive a 100 kW electric motor, the ix35 Fuel Cell has a top speed of approximately 160 km/h and a claimed range of 590 km. Whats more the ix35 Fuel Cell has been available since 2013 on a trial basis, with nine examples currently cruising around the UK.

The consortium also plans to build out a viable refuelling infrastructure so that early adopters wont be tethered to their niche Hyundai dealer.

This all sounds like a great idea as you have the same advantage of an electrically powered vehicle but one that is powered by Hydrogen instead of whatever method the power station that you used to charge the batteries. But there is one problem and it is the price.

According to sources, Hyundai will expect £53,105 (R970,000) in exchange for an ix35 Fuel Cell, which is a lot of money for something that might not work or that could only be topped up by handful of stations in the near future.

This is squarely an early-adopter car, where price is less important than the latest technology, and on that front the Hyundai seems to have most things beat.

It will be interesting to see if these plans spill over to South Africa, seeing as we have just started to  undergo our electric hybrid revolution with the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 and i8.


  1. Brian

    Hydrogen has been been proven to be the future.

    Two major stumbling blocks to get past….as was the case at the beginning of the 19th century:
    1.Refueling infrastructure that will survive oil company attempts to derail it.
    2.Cost of said Hydrogen vehicle -economies of scale.

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