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Audi, Hyundai announce hydrogen cooperation

by Ronan Glon

Both brands want to bring fuel cell-powered cars to the masses.

Audi and Hyundai have teamed up to develop hydrogen fuel cells in a bid to bring the technology to volume production in a timely manner.

The agreement signed by the two companies calls for the sharing of patents and for each brand to grant the other access to non-competitive components. At this stage, it doesn't sound like they'll use common platforms or powertrain parts.

Audi notes it has already approved the launch of a sporty, hydrogen-powered SUV. Small-scale production will begin at the beginning of the next decade. It's developing the technology that will power the model in-house; the tie-up with Hyundai looks even further into the future with a strong emphasis on mass production.

Both companies see a bright future for hydrogen, especially when the technology is fitted to larger vehicles that would require an immense battery pack to offer an acceptable amount of zero-emissions driving range. Long ranges and short refueling times are among the main advantages of hydrogen-powered models.

"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 Peter Mertens, Audi's board member for technical development, in a statement.

Audi and Hyundai could take their alliance a step further in the coming years. The joint statement published by the two companies states they're exploring the terms and benefits of a more far-reaching collaboration in the field of hydrogen. There's no word yet on when we'll see the first jointly-develop products on the road, or whether we'll get them in America, a market whose general attitude towards hydrogen is best described as tepid.

Note: Audi Elaine concept pictured. Photo by Ronan Glon.