Electrics and plug-in hybrids may be getting a lot of the attention right now, but development on hydrogen fuel-cell hybrids has been quietly happening in the background for decades at many automakers, and Hyundai looks like it may be poised to be one of the first to bring a true production fuel-cell vehicle to market, according to Motor Trend.

Honda has the FCX Clarity, but it is currently a lease-only proposition, and available in extremely limited numbers on a preselected basis only. Hyundai plans comparatively mass-market scale for its Tucson fuel-cell vehicle, sold in Europe as the ix35. The company plans on making 1000 of the fuel-cell vehicles by 2015, but has the capacity to build as many as 10,000 a year after 2015, if demand warrants.

Production will be aimed primarily at Europe and California, two markets where low-carbon transportation solutions are being aggressively pursued at the legislative and regulatory level. The projected price for the European market is $52,000, but if offered in the U.S. could be lower for the American market.

The relatively low price is facilitated by using some off-the-shelf components currently in some other models, including the lithium-polymer battery pack out of the Sonata hybrid as a "buffer" battery between the fuel-cell stack and the electric motor. Hyundai's fuel-cell stack also uses ambient oxygen rather than compressed air, making for quieter operation than systems that use an on-board compressor.

Hyundai is working with other manufacturers in the investment and development of a hydrogen vehicle fueling infrastructure.

Source: Motor Trend