Making a major statement about future motoring, General Motors and Honda have announced the industry’s first plant to mass-produce hydrogen fuel cell systems.
Both companies have invested US$85 million in the new company called Fuel Cell System Manufacturing LLC.
The company will create 100 new automotive industry jobs and will be based within GM’s American battery pack manufacturing facility in Brownstone, Michigan.
Both companies announced a collaboration in July 2013 and since then a joint team has shared hydrogen fuel cell intellectual property (fuel cell systems and storage technologies) with the aim of creating a more affordable commercial solution which can advance this next-generation, zero-emissions propulsion.
Already boasting more than 2,220 patents between them, GM and Honda claim to be the world leaders in fuel cell innovation. Honda’s all-new Clarity fuel cell vehicle launched in Japan and North America last year and GM has a range of fuel cell technologies currently in use on land, sea and in the air.
“With the next-generation fuel cell system, GM and Honda are making a dramatic step toward lower cost, higher-volume fuel cell systems,” explained Charlie Freese, GM’s chief of Global Fuel Cell Business.
“Precious metals have been reduced dramatically and a fully cross-functional team is developing advanced manufacturing processes simultaneously with advances in the design. The result is a lower-cost system that is a fraction of the size and mass.”
Both companies will continue to work with governments and infrastructure providers to accelerate refueling availability which is crucial for the long-term viability and consumer acceptance of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles – hydrogen can be made from renewable sources such as wind and biomass and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles exhaust emissions are only water vapour.
This is not the first GM-Honda joint venture – in 1999 Honda manufactured 50,000 V6 engines for the Saturn VUE and GM provided Isuzu diesel engines to power Honda vehicles in Europe.
In Australia, both Toyota and Hyundai are currently testing production versions of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.