SEOUL, Feb. 26 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's top automaker, said Tuesday that it will start mass production of cars powered by hydrogen this week for the first time in the world.
Hyundai Motor said it will roll out hydrogen fuel cell versions of its popular Tucson ix sport utility vehicle at its plant in the southeastern city of Ulsan starting Friday, and plans to sell 1,000 units around the world, including Europe, by 2015.
Hyundai Motor said it plans to sell 15 hydrogen fuel cell cars and two other units to Denmark and Sweden in April, respectively.
A fuel-cell car emits only water as it converts hydrogen into electricity, a technological advance that could eventually reduce heavy reliance on internal combustion engines that produce greenhouse gases largely responsible for global warming.
Hyundai said its fuel-cell cars can run 594 kilometers before needing to be refueled.
"We expect to realize an environmentally friendly era more quickly through the mass production of hydrogen fuel cell cars for the first time in the world," Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Kim Eok-jo in a ceremony in Ulsan.
Hyundai Motor claims it stays at least two years ahead of its competitors, including Daimler-Benz and General Motors, in indigenous technology and know-how for making hydrogen fuel-cell cars, a move that could help strengthen Hyundai Motor's position in the growing competition to make zero-emission cars.
Daimler-Benz, General Motors and Toyota Motor plan to roll out fuel-cell vehicles commercially after 2015, according to Hyundai Motor.
Ulsan Mayor Park Maeng-woo praised the planned mass production of hydrogen fuel cell cars as "a milestone event" for the auto industry around the world. He pledged to expand refueling stations, though he did not elaborate on details.
Currently, South Korea has 13 refueling stations for hydrogen gas.
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