The Tucson Fuel Cell, which is identical to the ix35 FCEV now being leased to businesses in Europe, is the first series-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, manufactured in Ulsan, South Korea since last February as part of a batch of 1,000 to be built before 2015.

In the United States, Hyundai offers the vehicle through three Californian dealerships, in Carson, Tustin and Anaheim. The lease is priced $499 (£297) per month with $2,999 (£1,787) down, which includes free refuelling and the same valet maintenance service as the Equus luxury car.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are driven using an electric motor, in turn powered by electricity the car generates itself. Using a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, it produces electricity with water vapour as the only by-product, and the fuel itself is abundant and can be manufactured using renewable energy.

Timothy Bush, the first customer, said: ‘What’s great about the Tucson CUV is that its day-to-day utility is virtually identical to the gasoline version, so we don’t have to compromise our lifestyle in the process; I can easily fit all of our family’s things in the back.’

Dave Zuchowski, president and chief executive officer, Hyundai Motor America, added: ‘We’re sure that fuel cell technology will increase the adoption of zero-emission vehicles, and that everyone will benefit. The commitment of the State of California and their support in creating a hydrogen fuelling infrastructure has been an important part of our decision to offer this fuel cell vehicle to the public.’