It is no secret that fuel-cell technology has snuck in the back door and started giving automakers another option to consider for alternative fuel. One company that has recently jumped on this bandwagon of sorts is Audi, and its 2015 A7 h-tron quattro concept is proof of this. If you needed even more proof that Audi is serious, then consider the fact that it just laid out some cash to buy a package of fuel-cell patents.

The patents were purchased from Ballard Power Systems Inc., a Canadian clean-energy company that focuses on reducing customer costs and risks associated with proton-exchange-membrane fuel cells. Though Audi didn’t disclose exactly what patents it bought, it’s obvious that the German automaker means business in the fuel-cell vehicle game. Audi also made it clear that it didn’t buy these patents to keep them all for itself, as Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi AG board member, said that it will share these patents across the entire VW group.

This could spell trouble for a lot of automakers, as the VW Group’s reach is so broad that it can almost corner the FCV market if these patents are as strong as I think they might be.

In addition to these patents, the VW Group has also renewed its ongoing cooperation with Ballard Power System until 2019, so it will have direct access to the brains of the company it bought the patents from.

Click past the jump to read more about this purchase and Audi’s future fuel-cell systems.

Why it matters

Sure, VW may not be able to outright eliminate all competition in the FCV race, but it can certainly get a head start now that it bought patents from one of the best in the business. In addition to having these patents, the fact that the engineers at VW Group can simply call up its business partner through 2019 and discuss the patents is invaluable. No one can ever explain something as technical as a fuel-cell system better than those who designed it. My hat goes off to Audi and the entire VW Group for planning ahead.

Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro

2015 Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Justin Cupler
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Press Release

AUDI AG has acquired a package of patents relating to fuel-cell technology from Ballard Power Systems Inc. In addition, the Volkswagen Group has extended its cooperation with the Canadian clean energy company until 2019.

The purchase of these patents will provide new impetus for the development of fuel‑cell drive systems at Audi, VW and the Volkswagen Group. As explained by Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at AUDI AG and responsible for the steering of the development departments of all brands in the VW Group: “Audi is acquiring these strategically important patents for the entire group and will make them available to all the brands. In this way, we are securing crucial expertise that will provide new impetus for the further development of this technology.”

Ballard Power Systems Inc. is based in Burnaby, Canada, and is one of the world’s leading companies in the technology of proton exchange membrane fuel cells. Ballard provides clean energy products that reduce customer costs and risks, and helps customers solve difficult technical and business challenges in their fuel‑cell programs.

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