With the newly inked partnership, both makes will grant mutual access to fuel-cell components while leveraging research and development experience. To start, Hyundai said it will first give Audi access to parts that are based on the make's knowledge from ix35 Fuel Cell and Nexo fuel-cell vehicles' development. Neither company said when the partnership and patent sharing will expire—only that patent sharing will remain equal through the duration of the partnership.
At Audi, the Germany luxury brand said it believes fuel cell-powered vehicles are the "most systematic form of electric driving" and an "asset" to the brand's future mobility plans. Although Hyundai has taken the lead publicly as of late, Audi has also been developing fuel cells for 20 years and introduced a handful of concept vehicles that boast the powertrain.
Although the partnership will begin with patent sharing, with the eventual goal of bringing fuel cells to mass production quicker, both the Korean and German brands hope to turn the relationship into an industry leader to set standards for fuel cell powertrains and technology.
Fuel cells offer numerous benefits and challenges. Although they offer longer ranges and shorter fueling times more comparable to a gasoline-powered car, hydrogen storage and infrastructure remain major hurdles. It's especially true as electric cars and plug-ins proliferate.
Hyundai has chased fuel-cell technology for a length of time and most recently introduced the Nexo fuel cell SUV on a bespoke platform. The vehicle boasts the automaker's latest technology to provide an electric range of 370 miles on a full tank of hydrogen. Audi said it has plans to produce its first fuel-cell model as a small series production run. The new Hyundai partnership will shape the fuel cell SUV's next development stage, according to Audi.