The two are exploring a technical partnership, not a full merger.
Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is still actively looking for a company to merge with in order to benefit from economies of scale. Recent reports suggest it's getting cozy with Hyundai, but chief executive Sergio Marchionne has shot down the rumors of a full merger.
"We already buy components from Hyundai. Let's see if we can agree on other points, especially for the development of transmissions and hydrogen," Marchionne said, according to Reuters. He added there was "nothing else to announce for the moment," and stressed he doesn't think the collaboration will ultimately lead to a merger.
FCA is a rookie when it comes to hydrogen powertrains. Hyundai, on the other hand, is one of the global leaders in the field. It has been testing hydrogen fuel cells for years and it aims to deliver a hydrogen-powered SUV with a 500-mile range as early as next year. Its main markets will be Japan, where the government is making large investments in a refueling infrastructure, and the state of California. Its design will be inspired by the FE Concept (pictured) shown last year in Geneva.
Joining forces with FCA would help the South Korean auto-maker reap the rewards of economies of scale, which would be a big relief for what is undoubtedly an immensely expensive project. But as much as we'd love to see a Hellcat-powered Kia Stinger, it's unclear whether the Hyundai group would receive some of FCA's technology in return or merely get cash.
Photo by Ronan Glon.