CHICAGO -- The valet at the Hyatt Regency hotel rolls up in the hydrogen-fueled Hyundai Tucson and opens the front doors for me and a Hyundai communications executive. Pleasantries are exchanged and then we glide away silently into 10 degree winter weather.
If the valet noticed that he was driving the future, he didn’t mention it. Indeed, looking at the Tucson fuel cell vehicle, you wouldn’t notice anything different from the standard-issue gasoline-powered version. Sharp eyes might notice the fuel cap is a bit larger. But that’s about it.
I spent about 20 minutes driving one of the world’s most advanced vehicles in normal midday city traffic. It behaved no differently than any piston-engine vehicle, except it was smoother and quieter.
The Tucson, available for lease now in Los Angeles for $499 a month, is proof that fuel cell technology is no longer a science experiment. Yes, automakers have had working fuel cell vehicles for years, but either the range or the refinement wasn’t there. Hyundai has largely conquered those problems.