Fuel Cell Cars

Hyundai will work with Cummins on fuel cell technology for commercial vehicles

Right now, the focus is on simply commercializing the technology, but the future is wide open.

Hyundai/Cummins partnership on fuel cells

Two unlikely companies are joining forces.

Hyundai

Hyundai isn't typically the automaker many think of when hearing "Cummins," but this is 2019. Times are changing. The two companies said in a joint announcement on Friday that they've signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate -- not on diesel technology, but on fuel cell and electric powertrain technology.

Cummins is best known for its diesel engines, though it's begun dipping its feet into the world of electric powertrains. It actually debuted an electric semi truck before Tesla. Hyundai, on the other hand, has dived headfirst into fuel cell-powered vehicles with the Nexo crossover. It also sells the Kona EV. Combined, the two companies think they make a good couple to work on commercializing fuel cell and electric powertrain technology.

Specifically, the new powertrains will likely combine Hyundai's fuel cell technology and Cummins' know-how regarding electric commercial vehicles. The focus right now is on North America, but whatever comes of the newly formed collaborative effort could expand easily. Both companies also said they've assigned teams to work on next-generation fuel cell systems, too.

Hyundai said this is a key moment to perhaps expand its reach in the North American commercial vehicle market. For Cummins, it's earned a well-regarded partner in fuel cell technology. For large commercial vehicles, combining fuel cells and more standard electric powertrains can help create lengthy ranges companies are used to when fueling up with diesel.

Underscoring how wide-ranging this collaboration will be, Hyundai and Cummins said they're also interested in things outside of the automotive market. They specifically named fuel cell-powered generators as an area of interest. Notably, Toyota recently said it installed its first fuel cell-powered generator in Japan to research its performance and further develop the technology. 

Increasingly, it seems like there's room for more than just electric cars in the future. With the right infrastructure, hydrogen fuel cells seem to have a place as well.

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