Hyundai Motor Company and Audi announced an extensive partnership in fuel cell technology between the brands and the groups (Hyundai Motor Group, including Kia and Audi's parent Volkswagen Group).
Audi’s Fuel Cell Competence Center is located at the Neckarsulm site
The partnership is seen as a way to accelerate the development of hydrogen fuel cell cars that heavily lags behind the all-electric type, which are now sold in the millions around the world.
The first point of the agreement is patent cross-licensing that covers existing patents as well as those filed over the years to come.
The second point is to seek new business opportunities in the FCEV component industry - the components could be shared between the groups to reduce costs.
Audi (responsible for the development of fuel cell technology within the Volkswagen Group) intends to introduce a full-size SUV with hydrogen fuel cells (but only a small series run) at the beginning of the next decade. Still not a volume product though - even several years from now. Hyundai, on the other hand, is supplying only hundreds of FCEVs annually with hopes for a 1,000 in 2019.
Despite the fact that hydrogen fuel cell cars are struggling to take off, we should note that their performance has improved over time, as we can see in the example of the Hyundai NEXO FCEV.
Audi h-tron quattro concept
"The partnership between Hyundai Motor Group and Audi will leverage collective R&D capabilities in fuel cell technology to elevate their presence in the FCEV market. Therefore, the agreement also includes mutual access to fuel cell components. As a first step, Hyundai Motor Group will grant its counterpart the access to parts that are based on Hyundai's know-how accumulated from the development of ix35 Fuel Cell as well as NEXO.
Audi - responsible for the development of fuel cell technology within the Volkswagen Group – will also be able to take full advantage of Hyundai's FCEV parts supply chain. Hyundai Motor Company, the world's first mass-producer of fuel cell vehicles, has been offering SUV-Class FCEVs since 2013, and currently sells them in 18 countries around the world."
"Partnership beyond patent sharing Hyundai Motor Group and Audi have also agreed to explore opportunities for a next step in their collaboration. This next step will aim to lead industry standards in fuel cell technology as well as accelerate FCEV development and spur innovation in this technology, providing more advanced mobility options to customers.
Alliance opens new doors for the Group's fuel cell components business
Audi h-tron quattro concept
Hyundai Motor Group also plans to strengthen its competitiveness in the fuel cell components industry, engaging in new business opportunities created by the new partnership. Hyundai Mobis (Mobis), the leading FCEV's components manufacturer of the Group, is expected to continuously expand its role for developing and supplying proprietary core components for Hyundai and Kia FCEVs.
In 2017, Mobis became the first company in the world to establish an integrated production system for core components of FCEVs. The company's plant in Chungju, South Korea, currently has the production capacity of 3,000 powertrain fuel cell complete (PFC) modules per year. PFC modules are comprised of fuel stacks, drive motors, power electronic components and hydrogen fuel supply units. Mobis will raise the plant's capacity to tens of thousands of PFC modules down the road, depending on market demand.
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. Key aspects for its future market success include the regenerative production of hydrogen and the establishment of a sufficient infrastructure.
Hyundai NEXO hydrogen fuel cell cars
Hyundai Motor Group, taking the lead in FCEV deployment, is striving to develop FCEVs that exceed the expectations of traditionally-powered vehicles, in terms of safety, reliability, range and specification. The Group is further strengthening its global leadership with an all-new hydrogen-powered SUV, NEXO, with enhanced range and fuel efficiency. NEXO comes with motor power of 120kW*, 20% better than its predecessor Tucson Fuel Cell (also known as ix35 Fuel Cell). NEXO is built on a new dedicated fuel cell platform, which gives it greater power and better driving dynamics than earlier generation FCEVs.
* Based on certifications in US / Europe"
Euisun Chung, Vice Chairman at Hyundai Motor Company said:
"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. We are confident that the Hyundai Motor Group-Audi partnership will successfully demonstrate the vision and benefits of FCEVs to the global society."
Peter Mertens, Board Member for Technical Development at AUDI AG said:
"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. 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."