The famous British aviation company will take South Korean fuel-cell technology.
The companies are planning to have a fuel-cell electric test vehicle flying by 2025 and commercial aircraft within 25 years.
The aviation collaboration was cemented this week at the Farnborough Airshow in Britain, where Hyundai also showed the prototype interior of an e-power helicopter designed by its automotive division.
The partnership between Hyundai and Rolls-Royce is targeted at all areas of the aviation business, from what is called Advanced Air Mobility – a range of futuristic developments including vertical take-off and landing vehicles – through to Urban Air Mobility, where small automated aircraft carry passengers and freight at low altitudes in suburban areas.
“Hyundai has successfully delivered hydrogen fuel cell systems to the global automotive market and is now exploring the feasibility of electric and hydrogen propulsion technologies for aerospace integration. We believe this to be the key technology to support the global aviation industry’s goal to fly net zero carbon by 2050,” said Jaiwon Shin, president of Hyundai Motor Group.
Rolls-Royce is a key engine supplier to major passenger airlines including Qantas, although the aero division is not connected to the BMW-owned passenger car company that produces high-end luxury cars headlined by the $1 million Phantom.
“It is also another demonstration of Rolls-Royce’s role in delivering the solutions that will enable passengers to travel sustainably and help deliver net zero carbon by 2050,” said the president of Rolls-Royce Electrical, Rob Watson.
The companies highlight a number of advantages of the fuel-cell program, from zero local emissions to silent power delivery, a reliable on-board power source, and the vital scalability that will eventually allow long-distance flight.
Apart from the tie-up with Rolls-Royce, Hyundai is also intending to push the fuel-cell technology into the Regional Air Mobility vehicles it intends to launch in the 2030s.
Its American aero unit, Supernal, is also aiming to begin commercial operations of Urban Air Mobility in 2028.
Supernal showed a teaser of a future eVTOL – vertical take-off and landing vehicle – at Farnborough with the focus on its five-seater cabin.
Work on the interior was done by Hyundai’s design studios, as Supernal taps more than 50 Hyundai affiliates – from cars to robotics and autonomous driving – for its aviation projects.
Paul Gover has been a motoring journalist for more than 40 years, working on newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and television. A qualified general news journalist and sports reporter, his passion for motoring led him to Wheels, Motor, Car Australia, Which Car and Auto Action magazines. He is a champion racing driver as well as a World Car of the Year judge.