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Hyundai says it’s close co-operation with Toyota in helping advance the cause of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is of more importance than any rivalry the two brands may have.

Speaking to CarAdvice at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, Hyundai’s global vice chairman, Chung Eui-sun, said that while the uptake of hydrogen vehicles remains relatively small compared to pure electric vehicles, the two companies – as well as other manufacturers – must work closely together to build momentum.

“Expanding [the fuel cell] market is more important [than any rivalry],” Eui-sun said. “We have to solve problems together about any issues and it takes time.”

Toyota continues its work on hydrogen-powered vehicles with the Mirai, while the recently unveiled Hyundai Nexo carries the banner for the South Korean brand.

The Japanese and Korean companies are not historically seen as allies, but the push to further advance the cause of hydrogen-powered vehicles has seen the two team up on the global hydrogen council, with the aim of bringing many other manufacturers onboard.

“I think Toyota is working really hard, and BMW and VW are also very interested in this area, so all other makers, they know how important EV and fuel cell EV is,” Eui-sun said.

“At this time, we all have to work together. This is not just one company or another company, this is early stage, so we have to work together with other OEMs and suppliers… we are working together.”

The main reason for the collaboration on hydrogen vehicle manufacturers is the lack of refuelling infrastructure, which hinders all manufacturers alike. However, if they lobby and speak as one voice, the chances of energy companies and governments around the world willing to listen and act, is improved.

This collaboration will also apply to autonomous vehicle technology, which sees OEMs work closely with each other (going as far as buying mapping companies together) and technology companies alike

“As far as OEMs are concerned, each is concerned with integrating all the autonomous vehicle technology, but the suppliers [that provide] like image processing and data processing, and sensor technology and software, those are something we have to work really close with.”

It appears, then, that for now at least, establishing the technology is more critical than any underlying desire to outdo one another when it comes to hydrogen vehicles.

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