General Motors and Honda have announced the auto industry’s first manufacturing joint venture to mass produce a hydrogen fuel cell system.
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.
After establishing a ‘master collaboration agreement’ in July 2013 which saw a co-development arrangement for next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies, the two companies integrated their development teams and shared hydrogen fuel cell intellectual property.
“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,” said Toshiaki Mikoshiba, chief operating officer of the North American Region for Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and president & CEO of American Honda Co., Inc. and Honda North America, Inc. “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.”
According to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index, GM and Honda are leaders in fuel cell technology with more than 2,220 patents between them. GM and Honda rank No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, in total fuel cell patents filed from 2002 to 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.
GM and Honda are also 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 refuelling infrastructure that is critical for the long-term viability and consumer acceptance of 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. It received the best driving range rating from the EPA of any electric vehicle without a combustion engine with a range rating of 366 miles and fuel economy rating of 68 miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent combined.