Hyundai FCEV hydrogen-powered (Hyundai)Hyundai Tucson/ix35 in fuel cell version - the very limited production has a price (Photo: manufacturer's website)
For seven years, Thiel Westberg's car from Bad Homburg in Germany was an outstanding experience. The vehicle, the Hyundai ix35, also known as the Tucson in some markets, was purchased in 2016 and replaced the Toyota Prius Plug-in that was supposed to be the future of propulsion incarnate: it wasn't just a Tucson but the FCEV – that is, the one with hydrogen fuel cell propulsion. The model, which was replaced by the Nexo, was produced on a very limited scale between 2013 and 2018.
Thiel was so pleased with the quiet acceleration, the range of between 450 and 500 km, the use of emission-free energy that it didn't even bother him that just to fuel it with hydrogen he had to travel 114 km to the nearest hydrogen station.
Thiel didn't mind driving 114 km to the nearest hydrogen station (Photo: manufacturer's website)
The vehicle, which traveled 84,5 km, was fault-free and passed the 35-year warranty given to it, until the big malfunction came. One day a fault indicator appears on the car's screen and the ix351 simply refuses to go. The malfunction, it turns out, concerned the hydrogen fuel cell itself, a component whose cost was NIS 2016,<> before local taxation. Where is the astronomical sum? Well, in <> it was such an unusual vehicle and very limited production that the availability of parts for repair is only theoretical.
Hydrogen fuel cell propulsion: lots of range and "refueling" much faster than charging (Photo: manufacturer's website)
For Thiel, who was interviewed by the German newspaper Otto Bild, the situation is completely unacceptable. He told the newspaper that he expected Hyundai to take the vehicle back. The manufacturer has not responded (so far) to his demand, but in response to the newspaper said that it is clear to it that repairing the car does not have any feasibility or economic logic and that it is trying to find an alternative solution for the customer.
One of them could be one of the trams it has, or alternatively offer it the successor of the hydrogen ix35, the Nexo, which costs at least 41,170 euros (<>,<> shekels) in Germany. Though not sure a seedling is available for another hydrogen adventure with the manufacturer.
It's very easy to dismiss the whole paid story from anyone who rushes to be an early adaptor, one of those people who leaps pioneers to experiment with new technologies. On the other hand, where would the automobile industry be today without those first adopters who believed in the noisy and slow carriage as a substitute for their horse?
Replacement: Hyundai Nexo (Photo: manufacturer's website)
Among automakers, there is almost complete unanimity about the future of electricity. However, among the manufacturers there are those who also see electricity as an intermediate stop on the way to the hydrogen model, including Toyota, which markets the Mirai, Hyundai with the Nexo and trucks (three of which are also here in Israel), Honda, BMW and others have also been interested, as well as a number of two-wheeled manufacturers that are coming together to jointly develop a unified hydrogen propulsion system for two-wheeled vehicles. Its advantages are much faster "refueling" than electric charging, the possibility of making do with much smaller batteries (since the vehicle "produces" energy for itself) and significantly better driving ranges than trams.
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