US electric truck maker Nikola has said it was open to collaborating with Hyundai Motor on hydrogen technology following a media report that it had spoken to the Korean automaker.
In an interview with South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo published on Sunday and cited by Reuters, Nikola founder Trevor Milton said he would like to cooperate with Hyundai. He said he had twice made proposals to Hyundai that were rejected.
Hyundai, along with Toyota Motor, is among the few automakers championing hydrogen technology, Reuters noted.
"Trevor has immense respect for Hyundai and views Hyundai amongst the leaders in hydrogen around the world," Nikola spokeswoman Nicole Rose told Reuters by emailed statement.
"Trevor has, and will continue to be, open to collaborate if they ever choose to do so," Rose added.
She did not address the news agency's queries on whether Nikola had made proposals to Hyundai.
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A person familiar with Hyundai told Reuters there were no current cooperation talks.
"If Nikola makes an official offer, Hyundai can consider the proposal," the source said.
He added Hyundai wants to sell its hydrogen systems to other automakers but, at the same time, Nikola could become a potential competitor to Hyundai's commercial truck business.
Nikola this week announced a "minimum order" of 2,500 electrified refuse trucks from Republic Services, expandable up to 5,000. This order is to begin full production deliveries in 2023 with on road testing likely to begin in early 2022. The refuse trucks are anticipated to carry up to an industry leading 720kWh of energy storage.
"It would be a complicated relationship," the anonymous Reuters source added.
Hyundai declined to comment to the news agency.
Kim Joon-sung, an analyst at Meritz Securities in Seoul, told Reutersit was uncertain whether any partnership would bring benefits to Hyundai at this point.
"Nikola needs to produce some tangible results to work with Hyundai on fuel cell cars or infrastructure but those are not certain at this point," he said.
Reuters noted Hyundai Motor in July shipped the first 10 of its Hyundai Xcient Fuel Cell, the world's first mass-produced fuel cell heavy duty truck, to Switzerland, and aims to roll out 1,600 units by 2025.
Nikola has said it plans to start producing its battery electric trucks in 2021 followed by fuel cell electric trucks in 2023.
Hyundai has partnered with Audi on hydrogen vehicle technology, Reuters added.