Toyota and Hyundai brought their hydrogen-fueled cars to the nation’s capital on Wednesday, the day before the Washington Auto Show opens its door to the public.
The car companies hope to highlight clean-tech alternatives to plug-in electric vehicles at the expo, which industry insiders have dubbed the “public policy show” because of its proximity to federal decision-makers.
This year’s lineup includes one of the most diverse displays of green technology, including battery-powered electric engines, hybrids, clean diesel and hydrogen-fueled cars, said Washington Auto Show chair Kevin Reilly, who also owns Alexandria Hyundai.
“Within 12 months, there are now more options for a policymaker, and ultimately a consumer, to look at in terms of how to power my vehicle,” Reilly said.
Hyundai came to the show to feature its Tucson Fuel Cell crossover-utility vehicle, expected to reach the market at a few Hyundai dealers in Southern California this spring. The model takes less than 10 minutes to charge at special fueling stations and can travel about 300 miles per charge. The car would initially be offered only for lease. A 36-month agreement would require an initial payment of about $3,000, and payments of about $500 a month.
Toyota is showing off its own hydrogen fuel-cell concept car, which it unveiled in the United States at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month. Toyota expects the car to reach the market in 2015.
Nissan, meanwhile, announced it would test a new electric vehicle concept car in the Washington area though a partnership with FedEx Express, an express-delivery subsidiary of the shipping company, starting as early as March. This is the first time the e-NV200 Concept, a compact, fully electric cargo vehicle, will be driven in North America, the company said. Nissan is field testing it to determine its viability in the United States, and will begin mass production in Spain in the spring.
The Washington Auto Show — organized by the Washington Area New Auto Dealers Association — recognized Cadillac’s energy-efficient brake technology, awarding the company its annual Green Car Technology Award. Cadillac’s ELR Regen on Demand technology uses the car’s electric motor as an electricity generator while braking, and allows motorists to engage or disengage the feature while driving.
In a keynote at the show, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced that the Energy Department would commit about $50 million to accelerating development of new transportation technologies, especially in cost-effective batteries, advanced heating and improved fuels, among other innovations. The funding would continue to support the department’s “EV Everywhere Challenge,” which aims to make electric vehicles more affordable and convenient than gasoline-powered cars in the next decade.
“Today, the American auto industry is on the rise, experiencing the best period of growth in more than a decade,” Moniz said. “The new research and development funding announced today will help support our domestic automakers’ continued growth and make sure that the next generation of advanced technology vehicles are built right here in America.”
The Washington Auto Show is held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, running from Thursday to Feb. 2.
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