Hyundai and Rolls-Royce will collaborate on the electrification of aviation in an unlikely partnership that draws on the same technology as Australia’s historic Nexo fuel-cell vehicle. By 2025, the companies hope to have a fuel-cell electric test car in the air and then in 25 years, commercial aircraft.
The Farnborough Airshow in Britain this week, where Hyundai also displayed the prototype interior of an e-power helicopter developed by its automotive division, served to solidify the partnership in aviation.
The collaboration between Rolls-Royce and Hyundai is aimed at all facets of the aviation industry, from Urban Air Mobility, where tiny automated aircraft transport people and cargo at low altitudes in suburban areas, to what is referred to as Advanced Air Mobility. This involves several futuristic advancements, including vertical take-off and landing automobiles.
Hyundai has successfully provided hydrogen fuel cell systems to the global auto industry and is currently examining the viability of integrating hydrogen propulsion and electric technologies. According to Jaiwon Shin, president of the Hyundai Motor Group, this might be the key technology to assist the global aviation industry’s objective in flying net zero carbon by 2050.
Even though the aero division of Rolls-Royce is unrelated to the BMW-owned passenger car company that manufactures high-end luxury vehicles highlighted by the $1 million Phantom, it is a significant engine supplier to huge passenger airlines, such as Qantas.
The companies emphasize several benefits of the fuel-cell program, including long-distance flight in the future, zero local emissions, silent power delivery, and a dependable on-board power source.
Hyundai plans to integrate fuel-cell technology into the Regional Air Mobility vehicles it plans to release in the 2030s in addition to the partnership with Rolls-Royce. According to Supernal, its American aero unit, Urban Air Mobility’s commercial operations are also expected to start in 2028.
At Farnborough, Supernal unveiled a teaser of a future eVTOL, or vertical take-off and landing vehicle, with an emphasis on its five-seater interior. Hyundai’s design studios worked on the interior because Supernal uses more than 50 Hyundai affiliates for its aviation projects, including robotics and autonomous driving as well as cars.