Rolls-Royce and Hyundai Motor Group have announced their plans to collaborate on bringing all-electric propulsion and hydrogen fuel cell technology to the AAM (Advanced Air Mobility) market. The partnership will leverage the aviation and certification capabilities of Rolls-Royce and the hydrogen fuel cell technologies and industrialisation capability of Hyundai Motor Group.

Both these companies share a vision to lead the way in the AAM market by delivering battery-electric and fuel cell electric solutions to the UAM (Urban Air Mobility) and RAM (Regional Air Mobility) markets and advancing sustainable aviation.

Partnership details

The MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the two companies includes five strategic aims. Together, the automakers will deliver a joint fuel-cell electric aircraft demonstration by 2025. Hyundai Motor Group’s US-based Supernal unit is aiming to begin commercial services of UAM businesses in the US in 2028 while Hyundai Motor Group plans to launch RAM services in the 2030s.

The signing took place at Supernal’s booth at Farnborough Airshow and was attended by Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce, Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology and Strategy Officer and Rob Watson, President of Rolls-Royce Electrical as well as Euisun Chung, Executive Chair of Hyundai Motor Group, Jaiwon Shin, President and Head of AAM Division of Hyundai Motor Group, and Jaeyong Song, Vice President of AAM Division of Hyundai Motor Group.

Jaiwon Shin, President of Hyundai Motor Group, said: “We are pleased to partner with Rolls-Royce to draw upon their aviation and certification expertise to accelerate the development of hydrogen fuel-cell propulsion systems. 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.”

Rob Watson, President, Rolls-Royce Electrical, said: “We are delighted to partner with Hyundai Motor Group which provides a valuable opportunity to leverage and build on the capabilities each company brings from the aerospace and automotive sectors. The Advanced Air Mobility Market offers great commercial potential, and this collaboration supports our joint ambitions to lead the way in the Advanced Air Mobility Market. 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.”

Why hydrogen fuel cell system?

The benefits of using a hydrogen fuel cell system in an all-electric aircraft propulsion system include a zero-emission, silent, and reliable onboard power source that enables scalability in power offerings as well as long-distance flight range. Hyundai will work with Rolls-Royce to bring hydrogen fuel cells, storage systems, and infrastructure to the aerospace markets, and advance this technology into Hyundai’s RAM vehicles and Rolls-Royce’s all-electric and hybrid-electric propulsion system offerings.

Last year, Rolls-Royce announced a pathway to net zero carbon emissions and its electrical technology is one way in which the company is helping decarbonise critical parts of the global economy. Rolls-Royce is committed to ensuring its new products will be compatible with net zero carbon operation by 2030 and all its products will be compatible with net zero carbon by 2050.