£53k Asking Price for UK’s First Fuel-Cell-Powered Car
Battery-powered electric vehicles may have improved dramatically in recent years, but ultimately they still succumb to the key issue of requiring lengthy recharge times and compromising their eco-friendliness as a result of the materials required to make the batteries themselves.
The solution to our reliance on fossil-fuel-powered vehicles is more likely to lie with vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells, which can be filled up quickly, cover many miles on a full tank and produce water as a waste product rather than dangerous greenhouse gasses.
The UK has just got its first hydrogen fuel cell car in the form of Hyundai’s new ix35, marking the historic arrival of what many see as the future of sustainable motoring. But there is one major catch - the price.
Private buyers who want to get behind the wheel of the ix35 will need to spend a whopping £53,105 of their own money to do so. And crucially, this amount has already been reduced thanks to a £15,000 government subsidy scheme which is in place to encourage people to drive greener vehicles.
The cash incentive is only designed to get the ball rolling, with the scheme ultimately set to see just 110 fuel cell vehicles hit the streets of Europe as a whole. And just three refuelling stations dotted around London will be opened in order to serve those who do decide to buy Hyundai’s latest arrival.
£11 million in public cash is being set aside to develop a network of hydrogen filling stations across the UK, with the scheme's organisers claiming that this step will make it easier to encourage drivers nationwide that this is a viable source of power for their vehicles further down the line.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the early adopters of the new Hyundai hydrogen-fuelled SUVs are fleet buyers, with organisations including Transport for London securing a few of these vehicles to both bolster their green credentials and potentially prepare for a time in which this kind of car is widely used.
Hyundai has designed the ix35 to cover a full 350 miles on a single tank of fuel, meaning that it should be able to rub shoulders with petrol- and diesel-powered cars in terms of range. Meanwhile, the rest of the vehicle is set up in such a way that the driving experience should be very similar to that of a typical passenger car, meaning that drivers will not have to adapt their expectations when slipping behind the wheel.
Performance is not particularly impressive, with the ix35 taking 12.5 seconds to hit 62mph from a standing start. And it will have a top speed of 100mph, which of course is quicker than anyone can legally travel on roads in the UK.
But the point of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is not to offer breakneck speed and acceleration but to cut down on carbon emissions and make the act of getting from A to B a less environmentally damaging process.
There is little doubt that the price of the ix35 is prohibitive for most buyers, especially those who would normally seek finance packages to buy basic family vehicles. So at over £53,000 even after a government subsidy, this is not a fuel cell vehicle for the masses but a model aimed at well-heeled early adopters who can afford to be eco-friendly.
A similar issue has affected a number of the ix35’s predecessors in the green motoring market, mostly because the development of the new technologies to make cars more efficient is very expensive, and the sales figures of eco-friendly vehicles are not significant enough to help manufacturers offset their costs.
Ideally, the ix35 will be a fuel cell vehicle which helps to spearhead the arrival of more affordable models of this kind in the future. But for the time being, green motoring comes at a price to the consumer if not to the planet.