Hyundai-Kia and the Volkswagen Group - led by its Audi brand - will co-operate on the development of hydrogen fuel vehicles in a deal that they believe will fast-track the technology’s development and dramatically bring down costs, making hydrogen-powered electric cars a viable alternative to battery-electric cars in the near future.
As part of the deal Audi, which has acted as the VW Group’s centre of excellence into hydrogen research for more than 20 years, has committed to bringing its first hydrogen-powered car to market “at the beginning of the next decade”.
No details have been released beyond the fact it will be an SUV and that it will be sold as a “small series production” vehicle; it is not clear if this means it will be a bespoke model or a version of an existing vehicle modified to run on hydrogen, but insiders say that the latter is more likely because of the costs involved.
Peter Mertens, Audi member of the board for technical development said: “For the breakthrough of sustainable technology, co-operation is the smart way to achieve attractive cost structures.”
Hyundai and Kia’s head of FCEV research, Dr Sae-Hoon Kim, said: “The key motivators are to hasten development and reduce costs. The more capability we have the more scale we will get and the more authorities will be willing to invest in and encourage the technology.
“The progress we have made in terms of making hydrogen fuel cell cars that are durable enough to be sold is incredible - just a few years ago I did not think it would happen in my lifetime, but already we are there. Now we must focus on cost and scale, and partnerships like this have the potential to address both of those things.