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Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell earns clean air award

Government tick: the federal environment minister Greg Hunt with Hyundai’s ix35 Fuel Cell car in Canberra.

Environment minister appoints Hyundai as Clean Air Champions with ix35 Fuel Cell

19 Jun 2015

HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia is continuing its fuel-cell offensive at a federal government level, earning itself the role of Clean Air Champion from federal minister for the environment Greg Hunt, at the recent Australian Local Government Association conference in Canberra.

More than 800 local government councillors, mayors and administrators from around Australia were in attendance at the annual conference, where Hyundai Australia staff presented the ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle to the delegates.

The National Clean Air Initiative, which was launched at the conference, will “support engagement with industry representatives and the community on a range of clean air activities being progressed by the Department and help raise awareness of key government policy priorities that relate to clean air,” according to government documents.

In a statement, Mr Hunt said that local governments play a large role in activating clean-air initiatives, and that increased use of fuel-cell technology at a local level could reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“It's a pleasure to be able to announce Hyundai as the latest Clean Air Champion at the 2015 National General Assembly of Local Government,” said Mr Hunt, who was driven right into the foyer of the National Convention Centre in the ix35 to announce the award.

“Clean Air Champions are a select group of representatives from industry, community and academia and will be helping to raise awareness and knowledge of air quality issues through their own clean air activities.”

Mr Hunt was taken through the technical details of the ix35 by HMCA staff, including fuel-cell program leader Scott Nagar, before being chauffeured into the foyer of the Convention Centre.

“With the launch of their ix35 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle – the first hydrogen-powered car in Australia – Hyundai are well placed to take on this role,” said Mr Hunt.

HMCA will share the champion’s role with the Blue Sky Alliance, an Australian body linking the outdoor power equipment and the outboard boat motor industries in a program to reduce emissions from small engines by 90 per cent.

Mr Hunt’s endorsement of the ix35 Fuel Cell comes after federal industry and science minister Ian McFarlane pronounced the hydrogen fuel cell-powered SUV as the “way of the future” during an event in February this year.

It is understood that the federal minister for communications Malcolm Turnbull also inspected the ix35 Fuel Cell at HMCA’s North Ryde headquarters last month.

HMCA chief operating officer John Elsworth told GoAuto last month that while he was pleased with the progress of discussions at a governmental level, infrastructure plans were still some way off.

“Any announcement like that is a fair while away,” said Mr Elsworth. “The wheels of government move quite slowly especially when it comes to big, long term infrastructure decisions, so we’re realistic about what we can achieve in the short, mid and long term.”

He remains a staunch supporter of the alternative fuel program.

“It’s a bloody good car,” he said of the ix35. “The best part of that (launch) day was talking about something that impacts your children. Too often we get stuck talking about sales figures and the like. It sent a bit of a buzz through this place.”

HMCA has installed a small-scale, solar-powered hydrogen refuelling station at its head office but, despite earlier suggestions, will only operate a single ix35 for the foreseeable future, given the base vehicle’s imminent demise in Australia.

“For now, one car is sufficient for the purpose of demonstrating the technology – we are looking at the feasibility of ordering one or two more over the next two years,” said HMCA general manager of public relations Bill Thomas. “We need to show that the car is as practical as any other car.” Sources suggest that the new Tucson, set for launch in August, is likely to be the base vehicle for Hyundai’s next fuel cell-capable car.

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