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Hyundai to Sell Hydrogen-Powered Tucson in 2014

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Nov. 20, 2013—Hyundai will begin selling a hydrogen fuel cell Tucson SUV next year, the Associated Press reported Monday. Although General Motors and Honda previously tested fleets of hydrogen-power vehicles in the mid-2000s, the Hyundai Tucson SUV will be the first mass-market vehicle of its type to be sold or leased in the U.S.

"These things are now ready for prime time," John Krafcik, Hyundai's North American CEO, said in statements made last week.

The Tucsons have electric motors powered by a stack of hydrogen fuel cells and a rear-mounted tank, which the company said helped to overcome certain safety concerns about the technology. The vehicle has passed numerous crash tests without incident.

The obstacle of filling stations is being addressed by keeping the Tucsons in Southern California for the time being, where the California Air Resources Board currently has nine hydrogen filling stations open to the public and passed recent legislation to allocate $100 million ($20 million a year over the next five years) to build 100 more.

Hyundai plans to announce details of the Tucson this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Honda and Toyota are also scheduled to unveil their own concept, hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles this week but are not scheduled for release_notes until 2015.

Hydrogen-powered cars have been in the minds of automakers since the 1960s, but a more recent surge began when President George W. Bush allocated $1.2 billion for hydrogen research. The project was largely diminished by the Obama administration to focus on battery-powered vehicles, but Hyundai, Honda and Toyota continued their research.

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