Hyundai Follows Tesla’s Lead by Offering Free “Fuel” – Hydrogen Versus Electric
Hyundai made it publicly known that it’s following down the path blazed by Tesla Motors.
In an effort to push fuel cell vehicles, Hyundai says that its 2015 Tuscon FCEV will come with free fuel for the life of the lease. Hyundai isn’t willing to outright sell these costly FCEV machines, so leasing is the only option. At $499 per month for 36 months ($2,999 due at signing) the Tuscon FCEV ain’t cheap, but neither is the other vehicle that comes with free “fuel” for life: the Tesla Model S with Supercharge capability.
This would seem to be a wise move by Hyundai, but we see some glaring issues. First, there seems to be roughly a dozen hydrogen fueling stations in the US, most of which are in California. Second, that fueling infrastructure doesn’t appear to be in the process of expansion, as is seen in the fact that the number of hydrogen fueling stations has been stagnant in recent years in the US. Hyundai says it’ll offer the Tuscon outside of California as the hydrogen infrastructure spreads throughout the US, but we just don’t see that happening.
Who is paying to build out the hydrogen fueling infrastructure? Hyundai doesn’t say it’s willing to, neither has any other major automaker.
Okay, so the free “fuel” offer basically applies to those who reside in very select areas of California and who reside within perhaps 100 miles or so of the nearest fueling station.
On the flip side we’ve got Tesla Motors. Tesla offers free juice to all Supercharge capable Model S owners across the nation. By our count, the number of physical Supercharge stations in the US is now approximately 40 and each site has 4 to 10 chargers (8 charging points seem to be the average).
Furthermore, this Supercharge infrastructure is expanding quickly. It seems that not a week passes us by without at least one more station opening.
Tesla is building the infrastructure and is paying out of its own pockets to do. That’s the only way this sort of thing works.
Moral of the story: Saying and doing are entirely different. Until an automaker steps in and actually does the necessary work to get a hydrogen infrastructure in place, these FCEV vehicle are useless to the mass public of the US. Automakers can say what they wish, but the act of doing is what gets stuff done. Tesla is doing. These FCEV supports are still in the saying phase.