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GM and Honda announce fuel cell partnership

Fuel sell: The joint manufacturing venture between GM and Honda will help bring cars like the Clarity FCV into the mainstream.

Honda and General Motors to start joint fuel cell manufacturing venture in 2020

31 Jan 2017

GENERAL Motors (GM) and Honda have announced a joint fuel-cell technology venture that will see large scale production of hydrogen fuel-cell systems for vehicles of both brands starting in 2020.

The Fuel Cell System Manufacturing (FCSM) venture is the result of a $US85m ($A112m) total investment from the two companies, and will result in the creation of about 100 jobs when production starts at GM’s Brownstown assembly plant in Michigan.

The announcement is the latest step in the partnership between the two companies which was forged in July 2013, in which the two companies merged their fuel-cell development teams and shared intellectual property, combining a wealth of knowledge from both brands.

The two companies have filed a total of 2220 fuel-cell-related patents between 2002 and 2015, with GM ranking number one in applications over that period and Honda number three, according to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index.

Honda North American president and North American region COO Toshiaki Mikoshiba said the work of the two companies’ engineers has allowed for the next stage of their partnership to commence.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

The two companies are also working on reducing the cost of developing and manufacturing fuel-cell systems, as well as working with governments to advance infrastructure for fuel cell refuelling.

In August last year it was announced that the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government had purchased 20 examples of Hyundai’s next-gen fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) as a part of an initiative that involves the construction of a wind farm in South Australia that could provide the capacity to power up to 1000 FCEVs a year.

In addition to the advantages of renewable energy, the only by-product emitted from a fuel-cell system is water vapour, making it a very attractive proposition for the future of environmentally-friendly motoring.

GM global product development, purchasing and supply chain executive vice president Mark Reuss said the development of mainstream fuel-cell technology will offer customers more choice.

“The combination of two leaders in fuel cell innovation is an exciting development in bringing fuel cells closer to the mainstream of propulsion applications,” he said.

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

Both companies have an extensive history developing fuel-cell powered vehicles, with Honda launching the not-for-Australia Clarity FCEV in Japan in the first half of 2016, and in the US in December 2016, offering a range of 589km.

Among others, GM’s projects include the Chevrolet Colorado concept that was developed in collaboration with the US Army.

Lack of infrastructure in Australia has, in part, limited the appeal of alternative energy vehicles in Australia to date, including FCEVs, with none yet on offer for private sale or lease.

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