General Motors (GM) and Honda have announced a joint venture into the production of a new hydrogen fuel-cell system that will feature in upcoming models from both companies.
The fuel-cell production facility will operate within GM’s existing battery pack factory in Brownstown, Michigan, and is scheduled to commence operations around 2020.
It’s been nearly four years since GM and Honda signed their master collaboration agreement in July 2013, with the goal of creating a more affordable commercial solution for fuel-cell and hydrogen storage systems.
Toshiaki Mikoshiba, chief operating officer of Honda North America, said: “Over the past three 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”.
“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.”
Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president, said the partnership between the two companies will help to fast-track the development of practical and affordable fuel-cell vehicle systems.
“The combination of two leaders in fuel-cell innovation is an exciting development in bringing fuel-cells closer to the mainstream of propulsion applications,” he said.
“The eventual deployment of this technology in passenger vehicles will create more differentiated and environmentally-friendly transportation options for consumers.”
GM and Honda have over 2220 fuel-cell technology patents between them, and are ranked first and third respectively in total fuel-cell patents filed from 2002 through 2015 – according to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index.
Additionally, the two companies are working to lower development and manufacturing costs of fuel-cell systems through economies of scale and common sourcing, while also working with governments and stakeholders to expand refuelling infrastructure that is critical for the widespread adoptions of the technology.
While GM doesn’t currently offer a fuel-cell vehicle in its global line-up, Honda has the Clarity, on sale since 2016 in its home market of Japan and the US.
This isn’t the first time the two automotive powerhouses have collaborated on a project: Back in 1999, GM and Honda partnered for a powertrain cross-supply arrangement.
As part of the agreement, Honda produced 50,000 V6 petrol engines for the Saturn VUE crossover, while GM associate Isuzu produced diesel engines for Honda models in Europe.