With the first Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicle deliveries happening soon (a bit later than expected), it's time for the Korean automaker to explain why it's offering the H2 CUV here in the states. After all, there are only 10 public hydrogen stations in the US today, according to the DOE, so it can't be to take over the market. According to a Hyundai exec, the reason we are getting the Tucson Fuel Cell is to make up to $130,000 through California's ZEV credit system.
According to Wards Auto, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will give the automaker up to 26 points worth of zero emission vehicle (ZEV) credits for each of the $499/month hydrogen Tucson leased through the 2017 model year. Those credits could be worth up to $130,000 to Hyundai. Byung Ki Ahn, Hyundai's director of the fuel cell group, told Wards Auto that, "We really don't make any money out of selling the fuel cell vehicles for now. ... So just by selling the fuel cell (vehicle) we could get a lot of credit points, which you could sell at a later time if you want, like Tesla does. It could be a good business model."
"We really don't make any money out of selling the fuel cell vehicles for now" – Byung Ki Ahn
Ahn clarified that Hyundai does not plan to cash in on those credits, but to use them to offset the rest of its vehicle lineup. Other automakers also participate in the ZEV credit system, of course, but if Anh's numbers are correct, then fuel cell vehicles earn more credits than battery electric vehicles do, so if you want to earn a lot of credits, hydrogen is a good way to go. You can find more details over at Wards Auto.
*This post has been updated to mention other automakers using the ZEV scheme.