Automaker Honda can be arguably named as one of the pioneers among car makers for developing hydrogen fuel cell tech. Now the company has entered into a partnership with General Motors to make further inroads into the rapidly emerging field. Honda and GM are together pouring in a significant $85 million sum into the partnership.
The joint venture, named as Fuel Cell System Manufacturing LLC, will begin large scale hydrogen cell manufacturing at a Brownstown, Michigan-based battery pack construction facility — the same establishment where GM develops it’s Volt battery packs. GM and Honda will still pursue development of fuel cell vehicles on independently. The JV will employ around 100 workers with it’s first product expected to roll out as early as 2020.
The combination of two leaders in fuel cell innovation is an exciting development in bringing fuel cells closer to the mainstream of propulsion applications.
GM Product Development boss Mark Reuss said when announcing the joint venture.
The eventual deployment of this technology in passenger vehicles will create more differentiated and environmentally friendly transportation options for consumers.
The managing board will be comprised of three executives from each company, and they’ll appoint an alternating chairperson and president from each firm.
The American and Japanese company first announced a partnership in 2013, with the stated intention of developing lower-cost, commercially viable fuel cell components by 2020. More recently, there have also been rumors that the two companies will collaborate on plug-in hybrid powertrains.
As mentioned above, the two companies are not new to this industry. Honda launched the hydrogen-fueled FCX in 2002 and the FCX Clarity in 2008. GM on the other hand, has collaborated with the US military for it’s hydrogen fuel cell tech. It developed an FCEV deep-sea drone for evaluation by the Navy, it also developed a hydrogen-fueled Chevrolet Colorado pickup (above) for testing by the Army.
Carmakers are more likely to partner on hydrogen fuel cell tech due to it’s high cost of development,and therein lies the main foundation for this partnership. Low production numbers too make achievement of economy of scale a far-fetched thought. Other manufacturers who have collaborated on this front include Toyota, which has partnered with BMW; and Mercedes-Benz, which has collaborated with Nissan on this front.