When you think about Hyundai Motor (NASDAQOTH:HYMTF), you probably don't think of "green cars." But that could change, because Hyundai just took a big step toward its goal of being the first car manufacturer to mass-produce a hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric vehicle, or FCEV. What's more, this could be a huge win for the company, meaning Hyundai could be a great addition to your car stock portfolio.
The race for mass-market FCEVs
Hyundai isn't the only manufacturer in the race for FCEVs. Toyota Motors, Daimler's Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and a number of other car companies have spent billions in fuel-cell technology, and are all competing to see who can be the first to market with a consumer-friendly FCEV. And for good reason. FCEVs have a driving range similar to gasoline-powered vehicles and can be refueled in minutes, and hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. Moreover, FCEVs, like Hyundai's, don't emit greenhouse-gas emissions from the tailpipe.
Hyundai began its research and development into fuel-cell technology in 1998, and the result is the ix35. Fitted with two compressed-hydrogen storage tanks for a total capacity of 5.64 kg, plus a 24kW battery and a 100 kW fuel-cell system, the car has a fuel-cell stack that converts hydrogen into electricity to drive the model's wheels, according to The Green Car Website.
In addition, the ix35 can go 369 miles on one tank of hydrogen, has a top speed of 100 mph, and can go from 0 to 62 mph in 12.5 seconds. More importantly, Hyundai just delivered its first line-produced ix35 fuel-cell vehicles to Copenhagen, Denmark.
Hyundai hasn't released a price for the ix35, but it has said it plans to release 1,000 vehicles by 2015, plus 10,000 more shortly after. Further, Hyundai stated: "[O]ur sights are set firmly on bringing fuel-cell technology to the mass market. We believe fuel-cell vehicles will pave the way for a new era of zero-emission transportation."
The cherry on this green cake? At the 2013 European Motor Show in Brussels, the Hyundai ix35 won the FuturAuto award for being the first mass-produced, hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicle to be commercially available. Further, Hyundai was one of the highest-ranked automakers for "Top Global Green Brands 2012" in Interbrand's 50 Global Green Brands report. Plus, in addition to its development of FCEVs, Hyundai has teamed up with the London Hydrogen Project, the Greater London Authority, the U.S. Department of Energy, and a number of other organizations to develop a hydrogen fuel infrastructure .
Is Hyundai investor-friendly?
As of September, Hyundai had 8.2% of the U.S. auto market share. In addition, according to its latest annual report, global unit sales, sales revenue, operating income, and net income have all increased over the past three years. More pointedly, while FCEVs still have obstacles to overcome -- a big one being price -- Hyundai is in a prime position to tap into this new market. Consequently, because Hyundai has continued to grow its brand and is increasing sales, it could make a great addition to your car stock portfolio.
Fool contributor Katie Spence has no position in any stocks mentioned. Follow her on Twitter @TMFKSpence. The Motley Fool recommends BMW, Ford, and General Motors and owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.