- Select dealers in Southern California are preparing for the arrival of the 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell.
- Salespeople are being trained in the "unique technology" of fuel-cell vehicles, Derek Joyce, a Hyundai spokesman, told Edmunds.
- Key service technicians are receiving specialized training in "all aspects of fuel-cell servicing and maintenance."
LOS ANGELES — Select dealers in Southern California are preparing for the arrival of the 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell.
Key dealership personnel, including the salespeople, are getting the opportunity to drive the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell before deliveries begin.
The first four Hyundai dealers to offer the Tucson Fuel Cell to Southern California customers are Hardin Hyundai in Anaheim, Win Hyundai in Carson, Keyes Hyundai in Van Nuys and Tustin Hyundai, with additional Hyundai dealers to follow. Availability of the Tucson Fuel Cell will expand to other regions of the country consistent with the accelerating deployment of hydrogen refueling stations, the automaker said in a statement.
The first dealers were selected "for proximity to the lease program official parameters and fueling station infrastructure," Derek Joyce, a Hyundai spokesman told Edmunds.
He added: "They are excellent dealerships with high customer satisfaction and a strong willingness to support the fuel-cell program. They were also willing to invest in the fuel-cell program, both in time and resources."
That investment includes equipment to fuel and service the hydrogen-powered vehicles, as well as specialized training for both sales staff and technicians.
Joyce said: "Every Hyundai vehicle line receives a training module for dealership salespersons, including the fuel cell. The fuel-cell module includes unique technology explanations unique to the fuel-cell powertrain, fueling procedures, etc."
He also noted that not every technician at each dealership is being trained on the fuel-cell vehicles but "key service personnel" at dealerships are receiving training, both in Southern California and South Korea, in which "all aspects of fuel-cell servicing and maintenance" are being covered.
The 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell will initially be available only via a 36-month lease, with $2,999 down and payments of $499 per month, including unlimited free hydrogen refueling and the Hyundai "At Your Service" program, which provides free pickup and delivery when service is needed, as well as a complimentary loaner vehicle.
Although the free-fuel program is a good way to attract drivers to the fuel-cell vehicles, the availability of hydrogen fueling stations remains a major consumer concern about the technology.
There are currently eight retail hydrogen-fueling stations in Southern California, and according to the California Fuel Cell Partnership 14 more are in development. Anticipating continued growth in fuel-cell vehicles, California has budgeted $20 million per year to build a total of 100 hydrogen stations statewide.
That would secure California's status as the state with the most retail hydrogen fueling outlets. Of course that's still minuscule compared to its 10,000 retail gasoline stations.
As with any alternative-fuel technology, acceptance by consumers will depend not only on cost savings and environmental factors, but on availability and convenience.
So far, Joyce told Edmunds, there have been "3,500 initial consumer hand-raisers; however, the exact number who will lease the Tucson Fuel Cell has not yet been determined."
For more information, interested consumers can check out the Hyundai Fuel Cell microsite, which the company says had more than 88,000 visitors in its first two months.
Edmunds says: Hyundai and its dealers have taken some unique steps to get the 2015 Tucson Fuel Cell into the hands of consumers.