A Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle (FCEV) built in Ulsan, South Korea, has arrived in Australia. It is the first hydrogen-powered car to be permanently imported into the country.

The vehicle is the first stage of Hyundai's plan to operate a test fleet of ix35 FCVs in Australia. As such, it represents a pioneering step toward the commercial availability of emissions-free hydrogen powered vehicles in Australia.

Hyundai Australia CEO Charlie Kim said: "We believe this fantastic car will help demonstrate the potential of hydrogen as a green transport solution for Australia."

The automaker has now begun the installation of the country's only hydrogen refuelling station (HRS) at its headquarters in Macquarie Park, Sydney using hydrogen provided by Coregas Australia. The station, supplied by American company Air Products, has passed all planning permissions from Ryde Council and is expected to be fully operational early in 2015 after testing is completed during December.

"Ultimately, we see no reason why Australians should not enjoy the same environmental solutions as consumers in other markets," said Kim. "Hyundai strongly supports the idea of a 'hydrogen highway' in Australia like those already in operation overseas, and we are committed to working with local partners to try to facilitate this."

In Europe and the US, 'hydrogen highways' have been built by government and private partnerships for use by FCEVs along with other hydrogen-powered vehicles such as buses. In some cases the refuelling stations generate their own hydrogen by using solar energy and electrolysers - this creates an entirely 'green' transport network, with neither the fuel generation process nor the hydrogen vehicles themselves emitting any harmful by-products or burning fossil fuels.

HMCA plans to build an electrolyser in partnership with Australian company Sefca at Macquarie Park in 2015 and install a solar array to power both it and the refueller - this will make its station fully self-sustainable, with hydrogen made on site.

The challenge of creating and distributing hydrogen through a viable, sustainable network is a significant one.

"We are not a political entity, nor are we aligned with any political party. However, we have seen in other countries that governments play a crucial role in developing hydrogen refuelling infrastructure," said Kim. "To that end, HMCA's fuel cell team has visited [the Australian government in] Canberra on a number of occasions over the last two years to brief federal ministers about our hydrogen car. The reaction has been very positive."

"One of our proposals was the 'Hume by hydrogen', which could link Australia's two largest cities via the nation's capital. It would require refuelling stations in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and in between, and could see hydrogen vehicles, including buses, running on the hydrogen highway emitting nothing but water vapour.

"A project like 'Hume by hydrogen' would surely demonstrate the benefits of hydrogen transport very effectively - we want our ix35 Fuel Cell to start a meaningful conversation about a hydrogen infrastructure in Australia for the benefit of future generations."

HMCA has begun discussions with a number of interested local partners to advance its thinking and seek support for its proposals.