General Motors (GM) and Honda have announced their establishment of the auto industry’s first manufacturing joint venture to mass-produce an advanced hydrogen fuel cell system that will be used in future products from each company.
Fuel Cell System Manufacturing LLC will operate within GM’s existing battery pack manufacturing facility site in Brownstown, Michigan, south of Detroit. Mass production of fuel cell systems is expected to begin around 2020 and create nearly 100 new jobs. The companies are making equal investments totalling US$85 million in the joint venture.
Honda and GM have been working together through a master collaboration agreement announced in July 2013. It established the co-development arrangement for a next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies. The companies integrated their development teams and shared hydrogen fuel cell intellectual property to create a more affordable commercial solution for fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems.
The Fuel Cell System Manufacturing (FCSM) joint venture will be operated by a board of directors consisting of three executives from each company that will include a rotating chairperson. In addition, a president will be appointed to rotate between each company.
GM and Honda are acknowledged leaders in fuel cell technology with more than 2220 patents between them, according to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index. GM and Honda rank No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, in total fuel cell patents filed in 2002 through 2015.
Fuel cell technology addresses many of the major challenges facing automobiles today – petroleum dependency, emissions, efficiency, range and refuelling times. Fuel cell vehicles can operate on hydrogen made from renewable sources such as wind and biomass. Water vapour is the only emission from fuel cell vehicles.
In addition to advancing the performance of the fuel cell system, GM and Honda are working together to reduce the cost of development and manufacturing through economies of scale and common sourcing. The two companies also continue to work with governments and other stakeholders to further advance the hydrogen refuelling infrastructure that is critical for the long-term viability and consumer acceptance of fuel cell vehicles.
GM is currently demonstrating the capability of fuel cells across a range of land, sea and air applications. The company has accumulated millions of kilometres of real-world driving in fuel cell vehicles.
Honda began delivery of its all-new Clarity Fuel Cell vehicle to U.S. customers in December 2016 following a spring 2016 launch in Japan. The Clarity Fuel Cell received the best driving range rating from the EPA of any electric vehicle without a combustion engine – a range rating of 589 kilometres and fuel economy rating of 28.9km per litre of gasoline-equivalent combined.
GM and Honda collaborated in a powertrain cross-supply arrangement in 1999 under which the Japanese automaker manufactured 50,000 V6 engines for the Saturn VUE and, in turn, received diesel engines from GM’s Isuzu affiliate for use in Europe.