Hyundai hydrogen FCEV record bid
- Hyundai aims for longest ever FCEV journey by lapping the M25
- Business Car Manager does its part by doing a lap in the Hyundai iX35 Fuel Cell
- 100% write down, zero emissions and hydrogen is just £4 a kilogramme
- Available to buy at £53,105, but it’s left-hand drive only
AS I write, Hyundai’s hydrogen-fuelled record attempt for the longest ever FCEV journey is coming to an end, with an iX35 fuel cell car pounding the tarmac of the M25 non-stop for five-days in clockwise circles.
It’s nice to be part of history and I’m chuffed to say that I contributed roughly 120 miles towards the 6,024 needed to be record breakers and with over 5,000 miles covered, it’s looking good.
But back to my turn round the M25…
Before I get into the driver’s seat of the iX35 I meet Steve, one of the professional drivers that along with his colleague has been tasked with doing the majority of the mileage around Britain’s best-known motorway – day and night! Steve’s been on since 10am and already got three laps of the 25 in before I take over, so he takes a well-deserved comfort break before we leave.
Meanwhile, I re-acquaint myself with the comfortable driving position of the iX35 Fuel Cell, a car that I was lucky enough to get a quick drive in last spring.
Hyundai hit the headlines last year when it became the first manufacturer to offer a production hydrogen fuel cell car. Yours for £53,105, yes it does qualify for the 100% write down allowance and hydrogen is just £4 a kilogramme, but there are caveats to being the perfect green SME company car.
Firstly, because of the limited production available (just 1,000 to the end of 2016) and the limitations of Hyundai’s current fuel cell platform – it’s only available in left-hand drive.
Plus, while it might have an iX35 badge on the back, it is at least a generation back from the car that was replaced by the Tucson last autumn. Still, the iX35 doesn’t feel too dated inside and out.
Then there’s getting hold of the hydrogen that powers this Hyundai – as it has got to be said that the infrastructure is lacking at the moment – with just six fuel sites in the UK.
Anyway, range anxiety won’t be a worry on my trip round the M25, as the record attempt is based near Heathrow Airport, right by Air Products’ site filling station.
The range reads the full 369 miles as we hit the M25 at junction 14; all Steve tells me to do is to drive normally and stick to the speed limit.
Does a hydrogen fuel cell feel any different to drive when compared to say an electric car, I ask myself? No is the answer, it has the same torquey feel to the acceleration – as quickly as I’ve squeezed the accelerator to get up to speed – I’m quickly lifting off as we home in on 70mph.
Traffic is light on this Tuesday lunchtime and we’re making good progress going back the way I’d already come from home that morning.
Smooth and refined is a good way of summing up how the iX35 drives. The only noise apart from the occasional whir from the induction motor is the sound of the tyres pounding the tarmac. This Hyundai feels happy and capable around the speed limit, with the only giveaway that I’m driving something different, when wisps of water vapour puff out of the rear – the only bi-product of the zero emission power.
In fact, driving a green car like this makes you think how dirty other vehicles are. I’d spotted that even after just a day, the white stickered iX35 was looking quite dirty in places and less than halfway round the M25, I’m washing what appears to be thick black soot off this Hyundai’s windscreen – yuk!
After the Dartford Bridge, the fact we’ve not had to stop means we’re soon passing Clackett Lane Services between junctions 5 and 6 and we start the long trip up to junction 14 and complete my M25 loop. I say long, as this part of the M25 is the slowest with the most traffic. Lane changes to make the quickest progress are easy, with plenty of low-down power. The lack of transmission shunt keeps stop/start traffic smooth and less taxing too – plus the range is still showing an impressive 190 miles too.
From there, it didn’t seem long till I was thumbing the indicator stalk and following the route back to Air Products’ filling site at Heathrow. My lap had taken roughly two-and-a-half hours, with virtually no traffic trouble. It was only when I got out of this Hyundai, I realised how tired and hungry I was. But less tired than I reckon I would have been in a conventional petrol or diesel SUV – I can’t imagine how fatigued professional driver Steve will be at the end of this – what a legend!
Overall it was a fascinating and enlightening experience. I believe, that with the correct fuelling infrastructure, Hydrogen could be a real option as a future fuel. But I think I’ll pass on another lap of the M25 – thanks.