While Honda and Mercedes-Benz have already produced fuel cell-powered vehicles for U.S. consumers, they were only sold in limited quantities. Hyundai's hydrogen-powered Tucson will shipped in mass fleets nationwide.
"Fuel-cell technology is not intended to replace electric vehicles," Dave Zuchowski, CEO of Hyundai's U.S. sales unit said Tuesday. "We see it as the next electric vehicle, but with no compromises."
"The first delivery of a mass-produced fuel-cell vehicle to a retail customer brings us one step closer to materially reducing the CO2 levels in the vehicles we drive."
Newport Beach resident Tim Bush will be the Tucson's first official American owner.
"My family is certainly excited to be doing their part in driving a zero-emission vehicle that benefits the environment," Bush said in a statement, "and at the same time, reduces our nation's dependence on imported fuels."
Zuchowski declined to specify how many hydrogen-powered Tucsons were in the initial retail fleet. It is currently available in California for a $499 lease that includes unlimited refilling for three years.
The California Energy Commission has committed $47 million for to build 28 hydrogen fuelling stations in California, primarily between Los Angeles and Orange County. The Tucson takes a only a few minutes to fully refuel and can travel 265 miles per-charge.