Since going on sale in the early summer of 2014, Hyundai has leased around 70 of its hydrogen fuel-cell-powered Tucson CUVs. That’s the number that Mike O’Brien, Hyundai’s vice president of corporate and product planning, revealed at a green vehicle event in Huntington Beach, CA, this week. There’s a reason for the low number, O’Brien said.
“Of course, everybody asks ‘Why 70?’ and it’s basically tied to the number of fuel stations that are available,” he said. “We were the first to actually pass over ownership of the vehicle, it’s not a test program. It helps people put their money on the table, and they lease the car from us and it’s their car. The customers that we’ve leased the vehicle to are ones that live close to a fuel station.
“Right now there is less than 10 in the state of California. By the end of this calendar year, there should be in the mid-20s. Then, of course, under Gov. Jerry Brown’s $200 million towards construction, I believe about 100 stations will come online through the end of the next couple of years. As those stations get built out, we’re taking more and more applications for vehicle sales.” In January 2014, O’Brien told AutoblogGreen that 88,000 people had expressed an interest in owning a fuel cell Tucson.
O’Brien said that Hyundai needs the customers to be close to a hydrogen station so that driving the car feels similar to what they’re used to doing. “We just want to make sure there is a satisfying experience of ownership, and that’s the most important thing, to make that their ownership experience matches what they’ve experienced with a gasoline car,” he said.
The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell can be leased for $499 a month, which includes free refueling. For the 2016 model year, the Tucson FCV gets HomeLink connectivity in the rear-view mirror and two new exterior colors, Hydro Blue and Chromium Silver, in addition to the already available Winter White.