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Hyundai Goes Blue Too

Hyundai Goes Blue Too

By Jeff Youngs, February 24, 2012
While "blue" is the new code word the clean diesel world is using for their latest green technology (mostly coming out of Germany), on the other side of the world (in Korea), blue has a different significance. The Hyundai i-Blue is a hydrogen-powered, zero-emission fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) that the company debuted this year at the Chicago Auto Show.

The concept serves several functions. It illustrates the design direction for Hyundai's future FCEV production model, which is likely to appear within the decade. The all-new i-Blue platform also features Hyundai's third-generation fuel-cell technology, currently being developed at Hyundai's Eco-Technology Research Institute in Mabuk, Korea. Previously, Hyundai had used UTC fuel cells.

The i-Blue also presented a challenge to Hyundai engineers as they were faced with a smaller vehicle in which to wedge in all of the fuel cell technology, which is a particular issue with the storage tanks, which in previous versions took up space in the back of the SUV (a Santa Fe and Tucson in the first and second generations, respectively).

The Hyundai team solved its space problems by locating the 100-kW fuel-cell stack under the floor of the i-Blue. It's fed hydrogen compressed to 700 bar (10,000 psi) from a 115-liter (30-gallon) tank. That will give the FCEV a 370-mile range, according to Hyundai, adding the claim that it will achieve a top speed of more than 100 mph.

The dedicated model puts Hyundai on the same track as Honda, with its dedicated fuel-cell Clarity sedan, which will be on the road this year in limited numbers. GM and other automakers have shown one-of-a kind concepts, but base most of their demonstration vehicles on production models. The Hyundai i-Blue is almost identical to the Clarity in dimensions, except for height (the i-Blue as a crossover rides higher). Other automakers continue to do as Hyundai in its first two generations, putting their fuel-cell vehicles into modified production vehicles. For instance, GM uses the European model Zafira small van, Daimler the small A-class car, Ford the compact Focus sedan, Toyota its Highlander SUV, Nissan its X-Trail SUV, and Volkswagen its Touran small van.
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