Hyundai's decision to push hydrogen technology so soon puts the Korean automaker well ahead of its main competitors in Toyota, Honda and General Motors, which as TorqueNews points out, are planning to bring their hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCV) to market in 2015.
To be clear, although Hyundai intends to begin producing vehicles in 2012, the vehicles won't actually be available until 2013. At that point, most of the vehicles will be bound for roads in Europe as the technology is more widely accepted and more recharging infrastructure exists. The current price for the Tucson ix is $88,550, a number Hyundai says it hopes to drop to around $50,000 by 2015.
Whether or not hydrogen fuel will catch on as a viable alternative to gasoline, diesel, or even battery electric cars is certainly far from decided - but this batch of FCEVs will help automakers get a better picture of the real-world viability of the technology.