Hyundai Tucson FCEV Sales Below Expectations


Hyundai Tucson ix35 at hydrogen refuelling station

Hyundai Tucson ix35 at hydrogen refuelling station

Hyundai is bravely trying to introduce the hydrogen fuel cell Tucson ix35 around the world, but despite the “first mass-produced fuel cell vehicle” slogan, sales are not only low, but even missing below Hyudai’s own targets.

By the end of 2015 Hyundai expect to produce/deliver 1,000 Tucson ix35, although since 2013 it delivered just 273 (by end of May).

  • 76 in 2013
  • 128 in 2014
  • 69 in 2015 after five months

At the current pace, sales will exceed 165 this year and 369 overall.

29 of those cars were delivered in Korea, 116 in US and 117 or so in Europe, according to the article.

The high price of hydrogen fuel cell cars and lack of infrastructure prevents sales from taking off.

The source article doesn’t mention one more important roadblock – refueling cost, which at the pilot stage can be covered by manufacturers, but that will not last forever. Refueling hydrogen cars will not be cheap like charging EVs and you will not pay off upfront higher price tags by factoring in lower fueling costs.

“The sales figures are far smaller than the company’s earlier target to sell 1,000 units by the end of this year.

The lower-than-expected sales are attributed to a lack of charging infrastructure available for customers along with relatively high prices.

There are 11 charging stations for FCEVs in Korea, with only two available in Seoul where more than 10 million people reside. The U.S. has around 10 hydrogen charging stations across the country.

In February, Hyundai Motor lowered the price of the Tucson FCEV to 85 million won (US$76,253) from 150 million won, but it is still too expensive compared to conventional vehicles. Also, it is not eligible for government subsides which are available for customers who purchase other kinds of electric vehicles here.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency

Category: Hyundai

Tags: ,

48 responses to "Hyundai Tucson FCEV Sales Below Expectations"
  1. Nonda Trimis says:

    I continue to be highly skeptical of FCEV technology which some manufacturers like Toyota and apartly Hyundai seem to be trumpeting. Not only is the infrastucture extremely expensive, but it puts everyone beholden to big corporations for energy. There are zero emissions but other than that what is the difference from our current Oil company corporatocracy society? The beauty of BEVs is that eventually everyone at a reasonable cost can produce enough energy to run their cars off of their rooftops. It is a very democratic model.

  2. Daniel says:

    And more over they seem surprised the things don’t sell !! GO Figure!

    1. Mike777 says:

      Faith in Humanity Restored.

      Hydrogen stations make excellent terrorist targets.

      Difficult to make hydrogen and store it. Hydrogen isn’t a source of energy, you can’t mine it, you can convert something else to hydrogen, like methane, but then you lose energy in the process. Hydrogen from water( in a global drought? ), is extremely inefficient. Hydrogen from methane gives you No Help with global warming, it actually makes things worse. As methane wells typically leak like sieves.
      Hydrogen must be supercooled and compressed to store sufficient energy, which requires lots of energy.
      Burning it as a fuel is less than 50% efficient.
      The energy to do all this could be used to directly run an EV from a battery, and get you Twice as far.
      Hydrogen likes to leak.
      Hydrogen has a general problem of metal embrittlement, so you need special tanks.
      Hydrogen leaks as an invisible gas.
      Hydrogen is extremely flammable with an invisible flame.
      Right now hydrogen is a loser vs. current batteries, not to speak of the battery chemistry in the coming solid state batteries.

      Hydrogen refueling vs. solar.
      Solar: You plug in at your home, Time 60 seconds.
      Hydrogen: You drive 20 minutes, or to California, to the station 10 minute refuel, 20 minutes back home: 50 minutes lost.

      1. Banzai says:

        I agree that hydrogen fuel cells make no sense.

        Just one note about this: “Burning it as a fuel is less than 50% efficient.”

        Fuel cells don’t “burn” hydrogen. BMW(?) had a hydrogen combustion engine project years ago but that approach seems to have gone by the wayside in favor of fuel cells which just catalyze a reaction when hydrogen flows over it.

        So the more relevant stat would be how efficient hydrogen can release stored energy during that fuel cell reaction. It’s really inefficient to put the energy in and I’m sure somewhat lossy on the way out.

  3. Speculawyer says:
    1. Speculawyer says:

      How come I can’t get images to show up?

      ***mod edit*** they do, just drop the raw link it, the site is crawled a couple dozen times a day (sometimes can take up to 30 mins), and they will be automatically embedded – provided they are under 1000 pcx wid ***mod edit***

      1. Speculawyer says:

        So I should not use HTML . . . just put in the web address of the image? Got it.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Yupper, (=

          1. Ambulator says:

            Why do you rely on telling people individually how to make posts? Can’t you put a “How to post” link somewhere on your page?

            1. Jay Cole says:

              Not really, it doesn’t work (the link to instructions I mean)…it is really a bridge too far intuitively. I know I certainly would not have the attention span/notion to seek such a tutorial out.

              But as long as the link or even the raw code is somewhere in the post (attempted by the commenter to share), the site will still pick it up and convert it regardless. I just like to wade in and explain that it will indeed happen and why when I see an opportunity.

      2. Steven says:

        When I saw the headline, that scene was the first thing I thought of!

  4. Forever green says:

    I read somewhere that there’s a fool born everyday. Although that might be true, there are not enough fools out there with enough money to buy a thousand of these vehicles this year. However, I have been wrong before.

  5. Lensman says:

    “The sales figures are far smaller than the company’s earlier target to sell 1,000 units by the end of this year.”

    Imagine my utter, complete and total lack of surprise. Some informed estimates a few months ago were that sales might be as high as 1000 per year for all of these FCEVs together, not just Hyundai’s model alone.

    Eventually, reality will set in for even the most ardent supporter of “fool cell” cars.

  6. ModernMarvelFan says:


  7. Doug B says:

    Imagine you are a new buyer and you have the choice;
    High cost, little fueling infrastructure, limited models and support from manufacturers, very little maintenance support, limited range, unassured future support.
    lower cost, fuel at home, fuel at 1,000 chargers or millions of home plugs, growing models and support, simple maintenance and growing network, limited to standard range, manufacturer commitment.

  8. Epicurus says:

    If gas station owners wouldn’t install facilities for refueling CNG cars, the fuel for which is plentiful, they aren’t going to spend the money to install hydrogen refueling facilities. The consumer market for natural gas cars has already died in infancy notwithstanding the efforts of Boone Pickens to promote it.

    Management at Toyota, Hyundai and Honda needs an overhaul.

    1. Speculawyer says:

      Hopefully CNG is not completely dead. I know a lot of fleets which have their own fueling stations use it.

      And I think some long-distance transport corridors have been established with enough CNG stations around for people to drive big trucks as long as they stay on certain routes.

      1. Steven says:

        CNG actually has a little bit of a market in my area. Since the next town over has a semi-municipal gas company, and their entire fleet is CNG powered, they also sell to the general public.

        But again there’s the range thing. Unless there were cng SuperChargers, all those vehicles are local use only.

    2. James says:


      The only way that fuel cell cars will take off if is gas stations and their owners (BP, Exxon, etc…) decide to invest billions in putting one on most forecourts.

      For them to do that they are going to need to do two things:

      1. Know that fuel cell cars are or would be accepted by the public and can actually work long term as a form of personal transport.

      2. Know or strongly suspect that their existing business (petrol and diesel) is doomed.

      The problem is if they don’t move really quickly, by the time they wise up to their eventual demise, it will be too late. People will have already figured they can cut out the middle man and charge an electric car from home, electric cars will be cheaper and have a range that exceeds hydrogen cars, and quick charging will be more than sufficient for long journeys.

      But then history is littered with examples of companies that might of survived had they got a move on a bit earlier.

      Personally I don’t see this as a bad thing, because I believe that electric cars are the (far) superior solution.

    3. Jelloslug says:

      The Honda management just did. Now there is a dedicated EV and a dedicated plug in coming out by around 2017.

  9. Speculawyer says:

    ” Refueling hydrogen cars will not be cheap like charging EVs and you will not pay off upfront higher price tags by factoring in lower fueling costs.”

    That really is a big problem for FCVs. People can say “We’ll just build a bunch of stations to fix the lack of infrastructure problem.” . . . but if fueling up with H2 is around the same price as gasoline . . . why would anyone get a FCV? That is a really tough sell. With EVs, you can at least rationalize that the higher up front cost will (eventually) be covered by lower operating and maintenance costs. But you can’t say that for FCVs.

    1. Jelloslug says:

      One of the things I have heard from an interview with owners is that the refueling is not quite as fast as promised either. Combine that with fuel that is hard to find and costs 3 to 4 times as much as gasoline and the idea of fuel cell cars starts to really look like a poor investment.

      1. Speculawyer says:

        How long did they say?

        I’ve heard that it takes 10 to 12 minutes or so. And when you are at that level, you are not all that far away from the 20 or 30 minutes needed to use a fast-charger to charge up to 80%.

        1. finecadmin says:

          Yes, my uncle had a dual gasoline/CNG car, and filling with CNG was like pumping up an air mattress, timewise, not a bike tire. And that was with gasoline backup, so the CNG tank could be a lot smaller. The station we went to had to have far more pumps, because people were there longer.

          Hydrogen would be like that- the density is worse, offsetting the under-the-hood efficiencies. LNG would be faster, due to higher density, but you won’t see liquid hydrogen pumps on the roads. The losses (both energy, and dollars) of liquid hydrogen are even worse than plain hydrogen.

          1. Bill Howland says:

            Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) refueling can be made quite rapid, on those stations that have a holding tank for the pre-compressed gas. I was under the impression only the smallest stations did not have a holding tank. That way people can empty the holding tank in a minuit or two, and the compressor can replenish the tank overnight, reducing electrical demand charges for the station.

            (These CNG dispenser stations are such small potatoes that there isn’t much benefit to having a natural gas fired compressor. Of course in some areas of the country, like in ConEd, SCE or SDG&L, where electric prices are confiscatory, the station vendor might do well to have a natural gas fired compressor station.

            In my area, electric rates went from being extremely low when I was a kid, to quite high, and currently they are reasonable (13-14 cents / kwh for residential customers). As an example, it is economic for a local real estate development chain (Benderson) to operate their car washes now on electricity, whereas before some of the huge facilities didn’t even have utility electric service since they made their own from natural gas generators, and recovered most of the waste heat to heat the water, something they’d have to do anyway. They also sell plenty of gasoline so, If Benderson ever decides to sell CNG, perhaps they will directly or indirectly compress it with natural gas also. Currently in my area, natural gas is ridiculously cheap, being in the neighborhood of 2 cents/kwh RETAIL (delivery and taxes included); (1/7 the cost of electricity by heat content).

            1. Bill Howland says:

              Not to leave the wrong impression, but in my area Benderson still has all their Natural Gas fired generators. They now only run them during the peak time of the day for peak demand load shaving. When the stations and colocated convenience stores are closed for the day, the generator is shut down and utility electricity is used to keep the food frozen and the security lighting on.

  10. Greg says:

    Yeah to me the fact that we’d just be replacing the oil cartels with hydrogen cartels makes it seem like a bad idea based on experience. Fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice, shame on me.

    1. Speculawyer says:

      It’s worse than that . . . you are actually just sticking to the very same cartel. They just sell your their (steam-reformed) natural gas instead of their oil.

  11. Will says:

    Don’t know why these fools won’t learn. It’s almost as if they’re doing this to avoid BEVs as some kind of stubborn childish need to be different.

    1. Speculawyer says:

      “It’s almost as if they’re doing this to avoid BEVs”

      The theory that FCVs have just been a FUD device by the oil & gas industry to stall plug-in cars has been around a long time . . . and has merit, IMHO.

      1. Mister G says:

        DUBYA..I sure do not miss him. Will he be campaigning with Jeb?

        1. Speculawyer says:

          Neither W nor George HW was at Jeb’s announcement. But Barbara Bush was. Seemed a bit odd.

      2. philip d says:

        Is that reflection of “hell” in the fuel flap actually real or photoshopped?

        1. speculawyer says:

          On the fueling door? That is the last 4 letters from ‘Shell’ but I like your interpretation more.

      3. finecadmin says:

        Whoa, I’ve seen that hydrogen pump! Or rather, ex-hydrogen pump, since Shell had enough sense to drop the ruse. Wonder if our boy sven has sense, too.

        1. finecadmin says:

          The answer is no, sven’s still at it.

  12. You know the future? How can you claim they are not meeting 1000 sales at years end? A single large fleet order is enough to get there.

    1. Aaron says:

      Who is going to place a fleet order without a decent refueling infrastructure? I would be surprised if Hyundai would allow a fleet purchase anyway, given they’re already subsidizing part of the cost of the vehicle.

      1. Lensman says:

        There are a couple of dozen hydrogen fueling stations which have been around for awhile, most or nearly all restricted to use by a government fleet of FCEVs. I assumed that most of these new FCEVs will be sold to those existing fleets, but perhaps my assumption is mistaken.

        Hopefully we’ll see an InsideEVs article before long that looks into just who is buying these “fool cell” vehicles.

    2. speculawyer says:

      A single large fleet order certainly could happen. And that might signal failure more than the current slow sales.

      1. finecadmin says:

        Hmmm, perhaps a Dead Cat(alyst) Bounce. Clearing out the end of the production (?) run won’t be crucial for Hyundai (as compared to Brammo), since they have the whole rest of their vehicle line and accounting ledgers. But from a project perspective, they might want to round out some accounting period in an orderly fashion. Certainly if that accounting period turns out to be CARB’s… which is what this is all about.

  13. Rex Wilson says:

    So earlier it was priced at $135,000. No wonder it did not sell well.

    How did they manage to reduce the price by 40%. This type of pricing is what killed the Cadillac ELR. Many EV’s and Plugins were killed by very high pricing.

    Good that Toyota priced the Mirai at much more affordable $69,000 price tag in Japan and $57,000 price tag in USA.

    1. mike w says:

      $57,000 in the USA. These things are Lease only. Lease price is pretty much a wish for them. The fuel cell cartel stands to save a bundle by not having to buy ZEV credits from Tesla or Nissan.

    2. Lensman says:

      Rex Wilson asked:

      “How did they manage to reduce the price by 40%.”

      Keep in mind that for any car produced in such small numbers, the model will be an overall money loser for the auto maker. In this case doubly so, because auto makers have been working on developing fuel cell cars for some years, without having any sales at all to show for it.

      Hyundai hopes to at least partly make up for the loss of this substantial investment by earning carbon credits for selling FCEVs; carbons credits which otherwise it would have to buy from Tesla or some other EV maker.

      So, the price Hyundai sets for the car won’t be a reflection of its true per-unit cost, nor will the company attempt to set it high enough to actually make a profit. The price will reflect only the level at which Hyundai thinks it can sell as many “fool cell” cars as it’s planning to make.

      So if sales are even more disappointing than they anticipated, then it’s hardly a surprise they are substantially lowering the cost. Hyundai will lose less money overall on the project, and will earn more carbon credits, if it sells all the cars cheaply rather than pricing them higher but having to scrap some because no one will buy them.

      I hope that makes sense… Financial matters are not my forte and I’m not sure I can explain it clearly.

  14. philip d says:

    For perspective the picture at the top of this article shows 10% of all Tucson FCEVs sold in the first 5 months of this year.

    1. finecadmin says:

      Yes, I have to wonder if the populace of Tucson, AZ feels cheapened.

  15. Mister G says:

    116 fools in America…where is the list?