A Hyundai Tucson left San Francisco this morning, heading to Los Angeles in the first leg of a cross-country trip. But this trip is no family vacation; the Tucson will be picking up handprints from children as it makes stops at pediatric cancer facilities. And the car will not burn any gasoline in its travels, as its fuel cell stack converts hydrogen into electricity for its drive motor.
Hyundai's Hope on Wheels tour is designed to raise awareness of pediatric cancer, and present 71 hospitals with $100,000 grants to fund researchers. Childhood cancer patients and survivors will add their handprints to the Tucson at each stop.
The tour is timed to coincide with National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and will cover 15 states. It winds up in New York at the end of September. Hyundai has been running the Hope on Wheels program since 1998, and raised $43 million for cancer research.
Driving the Tucson Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) will be Zafar Brooks, Hyundai's director of Corporate Social Responsibility, and Joe Foster, the Drive 4 Hope field leader.
The vehicle being used for the tour represents the third generation of Hyundai's fuel cell technology. It holds two 10,000 PSI hydrogen tanks, giving it a range of 400 miles per fill-up. Hyundai planned the tour to take advantage of hydrogen filling stations along the way, but also has had to ship hydrogen filling apparatus to members of its dealer network to make up for the current lack of infrastructure.
Hyundai has built 48 examples of this third-generation Tucson FCEV for research. Its 100-kilowatt motor gets electricity from the hydrogen-fed fuel cells and gives it a top speed of 100 mph. The drive system also uses regenerative braking and a lithium polymer battery pack to store excess electricity.
Hyundai Senior Fuel Cell Engineer Joshua Mermelstein says this current generation of fuel cell stack, built in-house by Hyundai, is designed to achieve 5,000 hours of operation, equivalent to about 100,000 miles of driving.
You can follow the tour at the Hyundai Drive 4 Hope Web site.