GM and Honda announced on January 30, 2017 an alliance to mass manufacture hydrogen fueled cells. Both companies will fit these cells in future consumer vehicles.

The joint venture will mean that Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, LLC will produce batteries at GM’s plant in Brownstone, Michigan as of 2020. Honda and GM hold 2,220 patents between them in the fuel cell field, and their latest project crowns an alliance that has been in the pipeline since 2013.

The carmakers will need to cough up US$85 million for the production line, which will be partly automated to combine oxygen and hydrogen to power vehicles. The only byproduct from this sort of fuel is water. And fuel cell vehicles could charge in a matter of minutes, overtaking battery-powered electric cars.

Toshiaki Mikoshiba, COO of the North American Region for Honda said of the joint venture: “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-gen fuel cell system.” The cited low-cost technology is thanks to the reduction of precious metals and advanced manufacturing which will reduce overheads spent on prototypes and many employees.

Honda has already produced 118 fuel cell vehicles, called Clarity (picured above) at a price of ¥7.66 million (almost US$68,00), which is not yet as low-cost as the press releases stated. GM’s innovation in hydrogen technology dates back to the 1960s, through which Chevrolet created the military ZH2 truck (pictured right).

GM Executive Vice President Mark Reuss said “The eventual deployment of this technology in passenger vehicles will create more differentiated and environmentally-friendly transportation options for consumers.” He noted the technology could be used in autonomous vehicles and tagged the ride-sharing company and GM-affiliate Lyft as a potential user. Reuss also said at a presentation in Detroit that GM-Honda’s fuel cells could even have aerospace and military applications.

Data sources: Reuters, GM, T21 (Photo Credit: New Atlas)

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