Fuel cell vehicles, powered by hydrogen tanks and fuel-cell technology that emits nothing but heat and water, are a rival to full-electric cars as an emissions-free, environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline and diesel engines, which are blamed for emitting climate-changing gases and harmful pollutants.
But high prices and the lack of a widespread refueling infrastructure have held back sales.
Hyundai hopes that its cooperation with Audi will create greater demand for vehicles such as its ix35 and bring down costs to make the technology profitable. Hyundai management said that a toughening of European Union carbon emission limits in 2025 would create a need for more hydrogen cars.
Hyundai sold 200 such models last year and expects to sell thousands this year, but profitability was still far off as a company will only see profits when 100,000 or 300,000 vehicles are sold per year per company.
Automakers are teaming up to share the cost of developing greener technologies to replace combustion engines as regulators around the world crack down on emissions. General Motors and Honda have a partnership to jointly develop electric vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells that are expected to go on sale in 2020, while BMW is working with Toyota.