Audi and Hyundai partner on developing fuel-cell technology

Audi and Hyundai will work together on the development of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles through a patent cross-licensing agreement. The deal means that each company will be able to access the other's existing and future patents surrounding fuel-cell cars as the two automakers work to promote hydrogen cars.

Though the deal is specifically between Hyundai and Audi, it applies to related brands like Kia and Volkswagen. Within the Volkswagen Group, however, Audi has taken the lead on developing fuel cell vehicles. Audi plans to launch a long-range hydrogen-powered SUV "at the beginning of the next decade."

Hyundai's latest fuel-cell car is a crossover called the Nexo. Audi will be able to access information used for that vehicle, as well as its predecessor, the ix35/Tucson fuel-cell. Moreover, Audi will have access to Hyundai's parts supply chain for hydrogen tech. The Korean company owns Hyundai Mobis, which builds hydrogen fuel cell stacks and associated components.

Audi says that it believes fuel cell technology will be ideal for larger vehicles, but notes that building a refueling infrastructure is one of the "key aspects for its future market success." The automaker has been developing fuel-cell prototypes for nearly two decades, with models including the A7 h-tron. Hyundai says that fuel-cell vehicles are ideal because they offer long driving ranges and short refueling times, especially compared to electric cars. Hyundai currently sells fuel-cell cars in 18 countries

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