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Hyundai teams with Audi on fuel cells

Automakers will share patent licensing and parts to streamline costs

Hyundai's Nexo fuel cell vehicle debuted in March. The South Korean automaker is moving to catch up in the green vehicle race.

SEOUL/FRANKFURT -- Hyundai Motor and Audi will share technologies and components for fuel cell vehicles, the South Korean automaker announced Wednesday.

The plan includes cross-licensing of patents and standardizing core components with the Volkswagen group unit. The two companies are expected to employ common fuel cell stacks, hydrogen feeders and motors in their vehicles.

Hyundai is taking an all-round approach to green vehicles, pursuing hybrids, electrics and fuel cell automobiles. The company had been viewed as lagging in environmentally friendly partnerships, but this arrangement will give a boost to its efforts.

The alliance with the German company will revive the market for fuel cell vehicles and mark a turning point in the development of related industries, said Chung Eui-sun, Hyundai's vice chairman and heir apparent. "We are confident that the Hyundai Motor Group-Audi partnership will successfully demonstrate the vision and benefits of fuel cell electric vehicles to the global society," he said in the statement.

Much like its Japanese rivals Toyota Motor and Honda Motor, Hyundai has great expectations for fuel cell vehicles, which use the hydrogen-oxygen chemical reaction to generate electricity. The company released the Nexo fuel cell car in March, and group unit Mobis has upgraded its capacity to produce core components sufficient for 3,000 fuel cell vehicles per year.

Audi, charged with fuel cell development for the Volkswagen group, plans to launch limited-scale mass production of fuel cell sport utility vehicles in the early 2020s. With much of its development resources dedicated to battery-based electric vehicles and autonomous driving technologies, Audi will save costs by incorporating Hyundai's fuel cell technologies.

"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, a board member for technical development at Audi.

Among German automakers, Daimler leases fuel cell vehicles, and BMW works with Toyota on developing them.

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