Top Gear likes hydrogen fuel cells. We think they’re the future. We like the way they drive: essentially it’s smooth electric power, but not tied to endless recharging because the electricity is made on-board from the hydrogen fuel. Meanwhile the only emissions are steam and a certain air of smugness.
Only thing is, there are hardly any hydrogen stations yet. But we like ambition. And once more fuel-cell eggs are on the road, enough hydrogen-station chickens might just hatch. Or is it the other way around?
We were chuffed to see that at the Paris show Hyundai announced this year it’s putting a fuel-cell iX35 into build. At first only municipal fleets will be able to lease it. But from 2015, it’ll become a proper mass-production vehicle, available for us normal people to buy.
The ticket isn’t fixed, but they’re aiming for a not-unreasonable £40,000. That’s Ampera money.
It’s claimed to do 100mph and 0-62 in 12.5 seconds. And with a full tank of hydrogen, the quoted range is 360-odd miles. Refuelling with high-pressure gas takes a few minutes. Which is a whole lot better than the hours on end you need to recharge a battery car.
We drove a prototype a while back and it was all very sanitary. Smooth, silent, and with the same space inside as the regular diesel iX35. The boot’s only slightly compromised by the tank beneath.
Since then, the chief engineer tells us, they’ve improved the handling and the refinement, and the silence. And crucially, made sure it can be built down a normal production line.