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GM, Honda announce hydrogen fuel cell JV in Michigan, US

Published 31 January 2017

General Motors (GM) and Honda are investing $85m each into a joint venture (JV) that intends to start mass production of hydrogen fuel cells by 2020.

The JV, Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, will operate within GM's existing battery pack manufacturing facility in Brownstown, Michigan, South of Detroit.

It is part of a master collaboration agreement between GM and Honda, formed in July 2013.

The agreement included co-development arrangement for fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies.

In order to form the JV, the two companies have brought together their development teams and shared hydrogen fuel cell intellectual property to develop a low cost, commercial solution for fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems.

Fuel Cell System Manufacturing 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.

The use of hydrogen fuel cell systems can address several issues being faced by the automobile industry including the dependency on gasoline or diesel, emissions, efficiency, range and refuelling times.

GM and Honda have stated that hydrogen can be synthesised from renewable sources including wind or biomass and water vapour is the only emission made by the fuel cell.

Apart from working on the development and performance of the fuel cell system, the American and Japanese automakers claim to be striving towards cost reductions through economies to scale and common sourcing.

Honda Motor North American Region CEO and Honda North America president Toshiaki Mikoshiba 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-gen 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.”

GM Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain executive vice president Mark Reuss said: “The combination of two leaders in fuel cell innovation is an exciting development in bringing fuel cells closer to the mainstream of propulsion applications.

“The eventual deployment of this technology in passenger vehicles will create more differentiated and environmentally friendly transportation options for consumers.”


Image: GM and Honda to jointly manufacture hydrogen fuel cells in the US. Photo: Courtesy of General Motors Co.