Here's hoping this goes down better than the Hindenburg.
Hydrogen fuel-cell technology holds a lot of promise – but it also requires a lot of investment. And while some automakers are going it alone, two major ones are collaborating together on fuel-cell development. Audi and Hyundai announced a joint initiative that will see the two sharing technologies, cross-licensing patents and giving each other access to "non-competitive components." The idea is to put fuel cells into volume production faster and more efficiently.
Both automakers have been investing heavily in fuel-cell development for years. Having taken the leading roll for hydrogen propulsion within the Volkswagen Group, Audi rolled out its first A2H2 prototype in 2004, the Q5 HFC in 2008, and the A7 H-Tron Quattro in 2014. Meanwhile Hyundai proclaims itself "the world's first mass-producer of fuel cell vehicles," offering hydrogen-powered SUVs like the ix35/Tucson and Nexo since 2013. Though the Korean automaker hasn't outlined what vehicles might stem from the partnership, its new German partner has: Audi plans to put a "sporty SUV" powered by a hydrogen fuel cell into mass production sometime "at the beginning of the next decade."
"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 Audi's technical chief Peter Mertens. "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," added Hyundai vice-chairman Euisun Chung. "This agreement is another example of Hyundai's strong commitment to creating a more sustainable future."