Fiat Chrysler seeks Hyundai partnership for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles

    The 2008 Chrysler ecoVoyager Concept was an electric vehicle with fuel cell range-extender. (Image courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)<p>{/p}

    Fiat Chrysler is looking to partner with Hyundai to develop hydrogen fuel-cell technology, its CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed on Saturday.

    The revelation came after a presentation on Alfa Romeo's planned return to Formula 1 racing, held at the Alfa Romeo Museum in Arese, Italy.

    “There is the potential of a technical partnership with Hyundai, which already supplies some components and transmissions for the U.S.,” Marchionne told reporters.

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    While Hyundai provides FCA with transmissions for its new Jeep Compass, the Korean manufacturer isn't looking for an exclusive partnership with FCA on hydrogen.

    “We welcome the interest from other automakers in our advanced transmissions and hydrogen-powered technologies,” Hyundai said in an email to Bloomberg on Monday.

    Marchionne said there was nothing to announce at the moment, and added that any collaboration is unlikely to turn into a merger of the two automakers.

    Hyundai may be looking to accelerate its hydrogen development after falling behind Asian rival Toyota in terms of global hydrogen fuel-cell sales.

    Hyundai has sold a fuel-cell version of its Tucson compact SUV in North America, and is expected to launch a dedicated fuel-cell SUV sometime during 2018.

    But Toyota has a dedicated hydrogen fuel-cell model in its Mirai sedan, now offered in several markets around the world.

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    The only other hydrogen-powered vehicle available in the U.S. is the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell; both vehicles are leased only in areas of California near the three dozen operating hydrogen fueling stations now available.

    FCA has never commercialized a fuel-cell vehicle. It last showed a hydrogen-powered model—the Chrysler ecoVoyager—in 2008 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

    This wouldn't be the first time Chrysler and Hyundai have worked closely together on powertrain development, however.

    In May 2002, when Chrysler was owned by German maker Daimler, the American and Korean automakers teamed up with Mitsubishi to form the Global Engine Alliance.

    At its peak, the alliance's subsidiary Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA) produced inline-4 engines for the three companies at five facilities: two in Dundee, Michigan; two in South Korea; and one in Japan.

    After Fiat took its first round of Chrysler ownership, the American manufacturer bought Mitsubishi's and Hyundai's stakes in GEMA and took control of the Dundee plants.

    [hat tip: Miguel Angel]

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