Hyundai has completed development of a new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle based on the Tucson SUV which it will put through extensive testing next year.

A cutaway version of the new car was unveiled at the Geneva show in March. Hyundai has now said production will begin in 2015.

It will be tested during 2011 at eco-friendly car demonstration events in Seoul and other major cities, organised by the South Korean ministry of knowledge economy.

The Tucson ix FCEV is the latest in the firm’s green car line-up following the first-generation Santa Fe FCEV introduced in 2000 and second-generation Tucson hybrid FCEV in 2008.

The latest version has an extended driving range of 650km per charge, compared with the Tucson hybrid FCEV’s 370km. Improvements also include a 15% higher fuel efficiency, which enables the car to run 31km (about 20 miles) per litre.

Hyundai said the Tucson ix can start at temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius and is equipped with a 100kW fuel cell system and two hydrogen storage tanks.

The fuel-cell system has been modularised, reducing the size 20% from the previous version to match conventional petrol engines. Hyundai has also localised production of more than 95% of its components through technology cooperation with about 120 domestic suppliers.

Hyundai and affiliate Kia have been testing 66 hydrogen-based vehicles in Korea and abroad. In March, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Mohave fuel-cell vehicles finished a 2,655km course in a hydrogen road tour organised by the US department of energy.

During the event they ran at an average speed of over 100 km/h (60mph) over a distance of 400-500km (250-300 miles) a day.