It has been almost a year since we last look at the hydrogen vehicle landscape. Like our last report, hydrogen is still at a stage where only a small group of people can actually take advantage of it. But that doesn’t mean automakers aren’t giving up on it. This past year has seen some automakers introduce concept and production hydrogen models. Also, one automaker has set a record in their hydrogen vehicle.
Let us take a look at has taken place in the past year.
Lack of Hydrogen Stations Causing Slow Sales of Fuel Cell Vehicles
One of the biggest hurdles that has caused hydrogen of not being viable alternative has been the lack of fueling stations. California, the state who has been pushing for Hydrogen vehicles, only has about twelve stations open to public at the time of this article. Last year, the California Energy Commission arranged for 50 stations to be open across the state by the end of the year. As you may have guessed, this did not happen.
With the lack of hydrogen fueling stations, sales of the two hydrogen models – theFuel Cell and Toyota Mirai have faltered. Last June, Hyundai reported they had only moved 273 units of the Tucson Fuel Cell around the world, missing their goal of moving 1,000 models by the end of the year. It should be noted the figure of 273 comes from two and half years of the model being on sale – 76 vehicles in 2013, 128 vehicles in 2014, and 69 vehicles by the end of May of 2015. Toyota isn’t faring much better. The Japanese automaker has set a goal of moving 1,000 Mirais by the end of this year. So far this year, Toyota has only moved 69 Mirais in the U.S.
Production Version of Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Is Revealed and Priced
At the Tokyo Motor Show in late October, Honda introduced the production version of the Clarity Fuel Cell. Looking similar to the concept that first debuted at the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Clarity offers a range of 300 Miles and can be refilled in about three minutes. At the time, Honda announced that Clarity would go on sale in Japan in March and the U.S. sometime in the Spring. Honda pushed back the U.S. Date to sometime late this year due to various things to get it ready for the U.S. market such as crash tests.
Last month, Honda revealed pricing for the Clarity Fuel Cell. Initially, Clarity will only have the option of being leased for $500 per month. No mention on how much of a down payment is needed, nor how long the lease will last. Honda did say it will open up the option of buying the Clarity if certain things happen, such as an expansion of hydrogen fueling stations. However to get the chance of leasing a Clarity, you need to go through a screening process. Honda says the process will include an application and some phone calls.
Audi Reveals h-tron Quattro
In light of the diesel emission scandal that is affecting Volkswagen and its various brands, Audi introduced a hydrogen concept at the Detroit Auto Show last month. Called the h-tron Quattro, it has the same design as the e-tron Quattro concept shown late last year. The h-tron’s powertrain is updated version of the one found on the A7 h-tron concept shown at the 2014 LA Auto Show. It features a fuel cell, an electric motor on each axle, and a set of lithium-ion batteries. Total output stands at 148 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. When needed, the batteries provide enough energy to provide an additional 134 horsepower for a short time. Quattro all-wheel drive comes standard helps the h-tron reach 60 MPH in under seven seconds. Audi says the h-tron provides a total range of 370 miles on one tank of hydrogen, and can be refilled within four minutes. Audi has also fitted a set of solar panels on the roof to help recharge the batteries, along with a regenerative braking system.
Now the question is whether or not see we the h-tron concept enter production. It is known the design of the e-tron and h-tron preview an upcoming crossover known as the Q6 that will slip between the Q5 and Q7 within the next few years. With the diesel emission crisis still going on, it might be a safe bet we could see the h-tron head into production.
Hyundai Sets A Fuel Cell Speed Record
We thought we would end this hydrogen update on a positive note. Last November, Hyundai set out to do something that hasn’t been done before by a production hydrogen-powered SUV; set a land speed record. The Soggy Dry Lake Bed in California was chosen as the place where Hyundai would attempt to set the record with a Tucson Fuel Cell. Did they achieve their goal? They did with the vehicle reaching a top speed of 94.6 MPH.
Hyundai produced an amusing video showing the attempt with the Ride of the Valkyries providing the soundtrack. You can check out the video below.