Audi and Hyundai Motor Group are bullish on development of fuel cell technology. The two companies plan to cross-license patents and grant access to non-competitive components. Through their collaboration, both partners aim to bring the fuel cell to volume production maturity more quickly and more efficiently. They are also exploring more far-reaching collaboration on the development of this sustainable technology.
“The fuel cell is the most systematic form of electric driving and thus a potent asset in our technology portfolio for the emission-free premium mobility of the future,” said Peter Mertens, Board Member for Technical Development at Audi. “On our FCEV roadmap, we are joining forces with strong partners such as Hyundai. For the breakthrough of this sustainable technology, cooperation is the smart way to leading innovations with attractive cost structures.”
“We are confident that our partnership with Audi will successfully demonstrate the vision and benefits of FCEVs to the global society,” says Euisun Chung, vice-chairman at Hyundai Motor Company. “This agreement is another example of Hyundai’s strong commitment to creating a more sustainable future whilst enhancing consumers’ lives with hydrogen-powered vehicles, the fastest way to a truly zero-emission world.”
Future source of energy for e-mobility
Long ranges and short refueling times make hydrogen an attractive future source of energy for electric mobility. This is particularly true for larger automobiles, where the weight advantages of the fuel cell vehicle inherent to its design are particularly pronounced. Besides further advances in fuel cell technology, key aspects for its future market success include the regenerative production of hydrogen and the establishment of a sufficient infrastructure.
Within the Volkswagen Group, Audi has taken on the development responsibility for the fuel cell technology and is currently working on its sixth generation. The Group’s Fuel Cell Competence Center is located at the Neckarsulm site. At the beginning of the next decade, Audi will introduce the first fuel cell model as a small series production. As a sporty SUV, the model will combine the premium comfort of the full-size segment with long-range capability. The cross-license agreement with Hyundai is already focused on the next development stage intended for a broader market offer.
Audi has been working on fuel cell concepts for almost 20 years. The first test vehicle was the compact Audi A2H2 in 2004, followed by the Audi Q5 HFC in 2008. The 2014 Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro introduced the ‘h-tron’ suffix for models with fuel cell technology. The ‘h’ stands for the element hydrogen. The Audi h-tron quattro concept study presented in 2016 further demonstrated the brand’s technology competence in fuel cell drive systems.
Hyundai has put hydrogen-powered cars into production. First, it was the ix35 Fuel Cell in 2013, and recently, Hyundai revealed the Nexo, a fuel cell electric vehicle that has a range of 805km. Hyundai claims the Nexo's powertrain is as durable as internal combustion engine-powered cars, and can be refuelled in as little as five minutes. The Nexo was also showcased in India, at the India-Korea Business Summit, in New Delhi.
Opinion: Hyundai and Audi join forces – but who’s the winner?