While electric cars are being heavily pushed in the alternative fuel market of automobiles these days, Hyundai is showing that hydrogen powered vehicles are a major player in the future of the automobile. An article was recently published by the New York Daily News talking about Hyundai’s new hydrogen powered Tucson. The vehicle will make an appearance at the New York Auto Show this year, but the reporter of the story was able to test drive the car before then. He seemed to really enjoy the Tucson Fuel Cell, claiming that it drove very similar to an electric vehicle. He stated that the Hyundai’s car, in “over-simplistic terms, is an electric vehicle.” According to the reporter, “The main difference is that the power to keep this sport-utility running for 250+ miles is provided by hydrogen gas, which is stored in a tank located beneath the rear cargo floor.”
This article really got me thinking about hydrogen powered vehicles. I had heard about these as a possibility before but had never really looked into seeing what the benefits were. This article helped make that clearer. It seems that hydrogen power for vehicles is potentially a pretty good idea for replacing gasoline. These vehicles, as mentioned above, run off of hydrogen gas that is kept in a tank like gasoline. The fuel cells for these automobiles can be added and subtracted “relatively simply, depending on what type of vehicle” as well as your intended power and range. They can work for cars, midsized SUVs and even trucks. Because the necessity of extra hardware, which adds more weight than normal gas-powered vehicles, these autos have a little slower take off time. For example, the Tucson is 3-4 seconds slower than its gas-powered version. However, to me, this is not that big of a deal. It is a short period of time, and once on the open road, it can reach speeds up of to 100 mph.
Another major benefit of hydrogen is its short fill up time. One issue that is being attempted to be solved with electric cars is the recharge times. The article mentions that normal plug-ins can take up to 12+ hours and the most advanced and expensive electrics still require around 30 minutes. Hydrogen refueling takes roughly the same amount of time as filling up your gas tank. This is a huge advantage to hydrogen vehicles as many people, including myself, don’t have the time to sit and wait for hours to recharge their car’s battery nor do they want to. Society today is impatient and fast paced and we want to be in and out of the gas (or hydrogen) station quickly.
One big concern, as some of you that are reading this may point out, is just because refueling is quicker doesn’t mean it is easy to find a hydrogen refueling station. Due to this, the Tucson is only being leased in southern California and cannot even be bought yet. Most of the country does not have stations for hydrogen powered vehicles so it is difficult to market and provide them elsewhere in the nation. However, hope is not lost for hydrogen power because states are starting to set stricter emission policies pushing for the development of hydrogen powered vehicles as they “emit only water vapor, warm air, and some hydrogen, which are not concerns for air quality.” California is trying to use tax incentives to promote an infrastructure of hydrogen refueling stations that makes these vehicles a “viable zero-emission choice.” New York is not far behind as the Tucson Fuel Cells are supposed to reach the roads of the state in 1-2 years.
After reading this article, I really feel that this could be a great option to gas alternatives. The article mentions that hydrogen power is the future of the automobile and the Tucson is a step closer to making it an everyday reality and I can’t say that I disagree. While there is still a lot more that I would like to learn about this technology before I label it the automobile’s distinct future, I do see a lot of potential just from the information in this article. It will be interesting to see if this wins out over purely electric automobiles.