Australia has welcomed its first hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle to be permanently based in the country, with the arrival in Sydney on Thursday of a Hyundai ix35.
The South Korean-built car, which runs on hydrogen and emits only water, was imported by Hyundai Australia, who are also in the process of installing of a hydrogen car refueller – Australia’s first – at their headquarters in Macquarie Park.
Globally, Hyundai is the first car manufacturer to begin mass-production of hydrogen-powered vehicles, which it did in February this year.
The high-tech vehicles mix hydrogen with air in their fuel tanks and convert this to electricity via a fuel cell stack – the electricity then powers the ix35 Fuel Cell’s electric motor.
Like pure EVs, the cars are virtually silent when running. But unlike PEVs, they take only minutes to refuel, more like normal petrol or diesel cars.
Hyundai plans to operate a test fleet of ix35s in Australia, to demonstrate the potential of hydrogen as a green transport solution.
Eventually, the company will build its own electrolyser at its Macquarie Park HQ – in partnership with Australian company Sefca – and install a solar array to power both the electrolyser and the refueller, making it fully self-sustainable, with hydrogen made on-site.
Until that time, the refuelling station – which was supplied by US company Air Products and is expected to be fully operational early in 2015 after testing in December – will use hydrogen provided by Coregas Australia.
“Ultimately, we see no reason why Australians should not enjoy the same environmental solutions as consumers in other markets,” said Hyundai Australia CEO Charlie Kim.
“Hyundai strongly supports the idea of a ‘Hydrogen Highway’ in Australia like those already in operation overseas, and we are committed to working with local partners to try to facilitate this.”
So far, ‘Hydrogen Highways’ have been built in the US and in Europe through government and private partnerships for use by FCEVs and buses.
One of Hyundai’s proposals for Australia has been ‘Hume by Hydrogen’ – a hydrogen fuel highway linking Melbourne and Sydney via the nation’s capital.
“It would require refuelling stations in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and in between, and could see hydrogen vehicles, including buses, running on the Hydrogen Highway emitting nothing but water vapour,” says Kim
“A project like ‘Hume by Hydrogen’ would surely demonstrate the benefits of hydrogen transport very effectively – we want our ix35 Fuel Cell to start a meaningful conversation about a hydrogen infrastructure in Australia for the benefit of future generations.”
“We are not a political entity, nor are we aligned with any political party. However, we have seen in other countries that Governments play a crucial role in developing hydrogen refuelling infrastructure,” Kim added.
In other words, the plan for Australia will only work if automotive and infrastructure manufacturers work together with businesses and governments.
“To that end,” says Kim, (Hyundai’s) Fuel Cell Team has visited Canberra on a number of occasions over the last two years to brief federal ministers about our hydrogen car. The reaction has been very positive.”