Fuel cell technology — and the state of Michigan — got a big boost today, with the announcement by GM and Honda of an advanced hydrogen fuel cell system manufactured jointly by both automakers, a first for the industry.
The new manufacturing arm of GM will operate in a site just south of Detroit. Mass production is expected to begin in about 3 years and create nearly 100 new jobs. The carmakers will make equal investments totaling $85 million in the new venture.
Fuel Cells for the Future
For nearly 4 years, Honda and GM have been working together through a master collaboration agreement announced in the summer of 2013.
“Over the past 3 years, engineers from Honda and GM have been working as one team with each company providing know-how from its unique expertise to create a compact and low-cost next-generation fuel cell system,” said Toshiaki Mikoshiba, chief operating officer of the North American Region for Honda and president and CEO of American Honda and Honda North America. “This foundation of outstanding teamwork will now take us to the stage of joint mass production of a fuel cell system that will help each company create new value for our customers in fuel cell vehicles of the future.”
Partners Leading the Way
The carmakers are often thought of as leaders in this cutting-edge arena, with over 2,220 patents between them, according to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index.
“The combination of two leaders in fuel cell innovation is an exciting development in bringing fuel cells closer to the mainstream of propulsion applications,” said Mark Reuss, GM’s executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain. “The eventual deployment of this technology in passenger vehicles will create more differentiated and environmentally friendly transportation options for consumers.”
As water vapor is the only emission from these vehicles, the technology is a boon to the environment and addresses many of the significant issues facing cars today: dependence on petroleum, emissions, efficiency, range and refueling times. The vehicles operate via hydrogen made from renewable sources such as wind and biomass.
GM and Honda are also working to address several challenges surrounding the technology — namely, advancing the refueling infrastructure that is needed for the long-term viability and consumer acceptance of fuel cell vehicles.