Hyundai Motor Company and Cummins Inc. have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly evaluate opportunities to develop and commercialise electric and fuel cell powertrains.

Announcing the move, a joint statement from the two companies said the new powertrains are expected to be developed by combining Hyundai’s fuel cell systems with Cummins’ electric powertrain, battery, and control technologies.

The initial development will be focused on the North American commercial vehicle market, including working with North American OEMs on the integration of these systems into their vehicles. The companies will also explore ways they can work together to develop next generation fuel cell systems and have each committed to assign a team of individuals to investigate and pursue other areas of collaboration, the statement added.

Thad Ewald, VP, Corporate Strategy at Cummins, said: “This partnership is a terrific opportunity for both companies to leverage our respective strengths and create new opportunities to grow and broaden the product portfolio we bring to our customers. We’ve made significant investments over the past year to accelerate our fuel cell capabilities including our acquisition of Hydrogenics and this partnership is another step forward.”

Saehoon Kim, VP and head of Fuel Cell Group at Hyundai Motor Group, added: “With Hyundai’s global leadership in fuel cell systems coupled with Cummins’ unparalleled electrified powertrain technologies, we expect this partnership to leave a mark in the commercial vehicle market. Collaborations such as this will enable us to further diversify our business, as well as reinforce our global hydrogen leadership through sales of new and existing Hyundai fuel cell systems.”

The new collaboration may extend beyond the commercial vehicle market, as the companies will also evaluate the development of fuel cell power generators, the statement revealed, adding that the availability of reliable back-up power generation to prevent data loss in emergency situations is a business-critical requirement for many organisations. Fuel cell back-up power generation is attractive for its reduced carbon footprint.

The MOU comes at a time of heightened demand for fuel cell technology. Hydrogen can be produced from renewable sources, stored economically, and deployed for a diverse range of industrial and residential energy-generation applications; as well as used in fuel cell passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Energy experts predict hydrogen will become increasingly important in meeting fast-growing global energy demand, while also supporting efforts to drive down carbon emissions from energy generation.