Hydrogen-Powered Cars

Hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles have long been just a clean-fuel dream, but now several automakers are introducing them.

The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell looks just like a typical small SUV, but it’s powered by hydrogen. The vehicles use a fuel cell instead of a battery. The fuel cell is replenished with hydrogen combined with oxygen, and the result is electricity to power the car. Water is the only emission.

Consumer Reports evaluated the Hyundai Tucson and found that it drives much like a normal Tucson but without an engine. It’s actually much quieter. Hyundai claims that it will go 265 miles before you have to refuel it. That’s pretty amazing for an electric vehicle. And unlike a battery-powered car, it doesn’t take hours to charge. It should take 5 minutes or less at a hydrogen refueling station.

Currently, there are only about a dozen hydrogen-fueling stations in the U.S., and they are mainly on the West Coast. But California and Toyota plan to build about 40 additional fueling stations by 2016.

At this point, Hyundai is making its fuel-cell vehicle available just in California and only with a lease of $500 per month.

Consumer Reports’ auto engineers believe that fuel-cell technology is promising and is advancing at a pretty rapid rate. Plus there are incentives available, such as free hydrogen fuel and tax breaks.

Other fuel-cell cars are coming soon, including the Toyota Mirai, which is expected in the next few months and will be priced at around $57,000 before tax credits and rebates. The Honda FCV is slated to come out in March of 2016.

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