Hyundai will present a fuel cell-powered SUV at next week’s 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. The vehicle, whose name will be revealed at the show, serves as the replacement for the Tucson Fuel Cell but is a standalone model with its own styling. It’s due on sale in limited regions later in 2018.
Hyundai previewed the model with the FE Fuel Cell concept at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show. The production model looks almost identical to the concept, and hopefully the specs will be the same as well.
That would mean a range of almost 500 miles on a full load of hydrogen based on the European test cycle. An EPA-rated figure would be lower but likely still higher than the 312 miles of the Toyota Mirai and 365 miles of the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell.
The Tucson Fuel Cell is being offered for $499 per month on a 36-month lease (with $2,999 due up front), but only in a few select areas of California. Given the lack of hydrogen filling stations, Hyundai’s new fuel cell SUV will also likely be limited in availability.
Despite the uncertainty regarding the long-term viability of hydrogen, especially as improvements in battery technology are seeing range increases for electric cars accelerate, Hyundai sees a future for the fuel. The automaker says fuel cells are ideal for self-driving cars, which require a massive amount of power to support the large amount of data communication as well as the operation of hardware such as sensors. Fuel cells and their fast refilling times may also be more suited to self-driving cars, which will likely be racking up much higher miles than cars today since they’ll be able to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days week.