You may remember late last year, OpenRoad was at the Hyundai unveiling of the first production hydrogen passenger vehicle to be released in Canada, the Tucson Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV). Available through a special lease program run directly by the manufacturer, it launched first in Metro Vancouver, and two couples from Surrey have already taken delivery of their special Tucsons. We recently had a chance to try out the compact crosssover SUV, and experience what it’s like to fill the tank with hydrogen.
At this moment, the main designated fuelling facility is at Surrey’s Powertech Labs (12388 88th Ave.) The subsidary of BC Hydro operates a hydrogen station, open during regular business hours Monday to Friday, which can completely fill the FCEV in just a few minutes. The process is remarkably similar to refuelling any conventional gasoline automobile, and is much quicker than recharging an electric vehicle.
On that topic, Powertech has also built a handful of 240-volt, Level 2 charging stations that take approximately four hours to fully top up your average EV. In addition, there is a DC Fast Charger right next door, but even that takes up to 30 minutes to achieve a maximum 80 per cent charge.
The electric stations are, at this moment, open to the public and free of charge to use. As far as hydrogen goes, the $599 monthly lease price for the Tucson FCEV (now $529 with the reinstated BC Clean Energy Vehicle program) includes all fuel for the three-year duration, as well as routine maintenance and roadside assistance.
As I mentioned, refuelling is a relatively painless task. You need to first make note of the four-digit pin number, unique to each vehicle and provided by Hyundai. Once you drive past the gates into the Powertech complex, a bright blue hydrogen station lies straight ahead. Simply pull alongside the pump (there are two — choose 700 Bar, as the 350 Bar will only fill the tank halfway), open the fuel door by pulling on the release lever near the driver-side footwell and step outside.
A rather self-explanatory screen asks for the pin number before you can proceed any further. Once successful, the pump performs a series of self-diagnostic tests on itself before instructing you to pick up the nozzle and insert it into the vehicle. When the connector clicks into place, press the “Start Fuelling” button on the touch screen and away you go. Once completed, press “Fill Done,” turn the nozzle counterclockwise to detach and place it back into the holster. If you get lost, instructions are listed on the machine.
Here’s a video on the simple process: