Hyundai Motor Group and Audi AG have announced entering a multi-year patent cross-licensing agreement, covering a broad range of fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) components and technologies. Both the automakers have joined hands in order to develop FCEVs, to lead the automotive industry to a more sustainable future. Though the cross-license agreement has been signed between Hyundai Motor Company and Audi but also covers and benefits both companies’ affiliates, including but not limited to Kia Motors Corporation and Audi’s parent company Volkswagen AG.
Commenting on the joint venture, 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."
“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,” said Euisun Chung, Vice Chairman at Hyundai Motor Company. “We are confident that the Hyundai Motor Group-Audi partnership will successfully demonstrate the vision and benefits of FCEVs to the global society.”
According to the agreement, Hyundai and Audi, as well as their affiliates will equally share the patent licenses over the years to come. However, the duration of the agreement has not been disclosed by the automakers. Also, 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. Hence, the agreement also includes mutual access to fuel cell components and the first step will be that 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.
Responsible for the development of fuel cell technology within the Volkswagen Group, Audi will also be able to take full advantage of Hyundai’s FCEV parts supply chain. Other than these, Hyundai 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. Engaging in new business opportunities created by the new partnership, Hyundai also plans to strengthen its competitiveness in the fuel cell components industry.
The FCEV’s components manufacturer of the Hyundai Group, Mobis is expected to continuously expand its role for developing and supplying proprietary core components for Hyundai and Kia FCEVs. Mobis became the first company in the world to establish an integrated production system for core components of FCEVs in 2017. Currently, the company’s plant in Chungju, South Korea has the production capacity of 3,000 powertrain fuel cell complete (PFC) modules per year. Moving ahead, Mobis will raise the plant's capacity to tens of thousands of PFC modules down the road, depending on market demand.
The PFC modules comprise of fuel stacks, drive motors, power electronic components and hydrogen fuel supply units. The long ranges and short refueling times make hydrogen an attractive future source of energy for electric mobility making it particularly true for larger automobiles, where the weight advantages of the fuel cell vehicle inherent to its design are particularly pronounced. However, the Key aspects for its future market success include the regenerative production of hydrogen and the establishment of a sufficient infrastructure.
Currently, Hyundai Motor Group is striving to develop FCEVs that exceed the expectations of traditionally-powered vehicles, in terms of safety, reliability, range and specification. Hence, the group is further strengthening its global leadership with an all-new hydrogen-powered SUV, NEXO, with enhanced range and fuel efficiency. As the Nexo comes with motor power of 120kW (Based on certifications in US / Europe) that is 20% better than its predecessor Tucson Fuel Cell also known as ix35 Fuel Cell and is built on a new dedicated fuel cell platform, which gives it greater power and better driving dynamics than earlier generation FCEVs.
As for Audi, within the Volkswagen Group, Audi AG 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 which will expand the market for both the companies.
The German luxury automaker has already 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 was yet another example of the company's prowess in fuel cell technology.
However, none of the automakers have announced anything in particular about their combined upcoming venture. Let’s see what this joint venture of Hyundai and Audi has stored in future for the auto enthusiasts.
Stay tuned to V3cars.com for further updates on the Hyundai & Audi joint venture.