Hyundai Motor Company is looking to expand its propulsion systems far beyond the traditional gasoline, diesel and hybrid-electric offerings.

Recently, the Korean automaker signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Cummins Inc. Now one might think that Hyundai and Cummins will enter into a joint development of new turbo-diesel powertrains. But that is not the case.

Instead, the two companies will jointly evaluate opportunities to develop and commericialize electric and fuel cell powertrains. These new powertrains are expected to be made using Hyundai's fuel cell systems with Cummins' electric, battery and control technologies.

“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,” said Thad Ewald, vice president in Corporate Strategy, Cummins.

Hyundai, Cummins to jointly-develop hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles image

Initially, the fuel cell development between Hyundai and Cummins will be focused on the North American commercial vehicle market. That way, the automaker is looking at increasing its presence in the commercial vehicle segment in the region. Meanwhile, Cummins plans to enhance its electric power product portfolio with the help of Hyundai's fuel cell technologies.

Both Hyundai and Cummins are no stranger when it comes to electric, hybrid as well as fuel cell technologies. Hyundai has been building the ix35 Tucson fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) since 2013 and has been followed by the Nexo. Aside from FCEVs, Hyundai also has the Ioniq hybrid, as well electric versions of the Ioniq and Kona.

Meanwhile, Cummins launched its Electrified Power business segment back in 2018. It designs and manufactures fully electric and hybrid powertrain systems for commercial markets. To date, the business has introduced electrified powertrain solutions in six markets and they continue to innovate in providing zero emissions products.

Hyundai, Cummins tie up to develop hydrogen commercial vehicles image

“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,” said Saehoo Kim, vice president and Head of Fuel Cell Group, Hyundai.

With the new collaboration, perhaps it will not only be hybrid and electric power that will see more use in the future. Who knows? Maybe FCEVs from Hyundai and Cummins are set to become the next best alternative when compared to battery-electric and hybrid-electric vehicles?