Vehicle manufacturers are entering a new era of collaboration to strengthen competitiveness, with Ford and Volkswagen (VW) working on joint projects, while Audi and Hyundai are developing fuel cell technology.
VW and Ford are exploring potential projects across a number of areas – including developing a range of commercial vehicles together to better serve the evolving needs of customers. The potential alliance would not involve equity arrangements, including cross-ownership stakes.
‘Ford is committed to improving our fitness as a business and leveraging adaptive business models – which include working with partners to improve our effectiveness and efficiency,’ said Jim Farley, Ford’s president of Global Markets. ‘This potential alliance with the Volkswagen Group is another example of how we can become more fit as a business while creating a winning global product portfolio and extending our capabilities.
‘We look forward to exploring with the Volkswagen team in the days ahead how we might work together to better serve the evolving needs of commercial vehicle customers – and much more.’
Thomas Sedran, Head of Volkswagen Group Strategy said, ‘Markets and customer demand are changing at an incredible speed. Both companies have strong and complementary positions in different commercial vehicle segments already. To adapt to the challenging environment, it is of utmost importance to gain flexibility through alliances. This is a core element of our Volkswagen Group Strategy 2025. The potential industrial cooperation with Ford is seen as an opportunity to improve the competitiveness of both companies globally.’
Meanwhile, Hyundai and Audi announced they have entered into a multi-year patent cross-licensing agreement, covering a broad range of fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) components and technologies.
The agreement also means affiliate companies can benefit from developed technology, giving Kia, together with other VW Group brands, an opportunity to offer a hydrogen vehicle option.
‘This agreement is another example of Hyundai’s strong commitment to creating a more sustainable future while enhancing consumers’ lives with hydrogen-powered vehicles, the fastest way to a truly zero-emission world,’ said Euisun Chung, Vice Chairman at Hyundai Motor Company. ‘We are confident that the Hyundai Motor Group-Audi partnership will successfully demonstrate the vision and benefits of FCEVs to the global society.’
‘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, Board Member for Technical Development at AUDI AG. ‘On our FCEV roadmap, we are joining forces with strong partners such as Hyundai. For the breakthrough of this sustainable technology, cooperation is the smart way to leading innovations with attractive cost structures.’
Long ranges and short refuelling times make hydrogen an attractive future source of energy for electric mobility. This is particularly true for larger automobiles, where the weight advantages of the fuel cell vehicle inherent to its design are particularly pronounced. Key aspects for its future market success include the regenerative production of hydrogen and the establishment of sufficient infrastructure.
Hyundai is pinning its future hopes on hydrogen, with a new FCV-based SUV being launched in 2018. The vehicle is expected to have an 800-kilometre range and autonomous capabilities.