General Motors and Honda Team on Fuel Cells
Expanding on a July 2013 collaboration, GM and Honda Motor Corporation announced a new joint venture to mass produce advanced fuel cells for use in vehicles from each company. Located within GM’s battery pack manufacturing facility at Brownstown, Michigan, Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, LLC will be the industry’s first such JV and reflects an $85 million investment, $42.5 million by each company. The operation is slated to create about 100 new jobs and start mass production of fuel cells around 2020.
"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-generation fuel cell system," said Toshiaki Mikoshiba, president & CEO of American Honda. "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."
This latest move makes strategic and tactical sense as GM and Honda rank first and third in total fuel cell patents issued between 2002 and 2015. "The combination of two leaders in fuel cell innovation is an exciting development in bringing fuel cells closer to the mainstream of propulsion applications," noted Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president. "The eventual deployment of this technology in passenger vehicles will create more differentiated and environmentally friendly transportation options for consumers." Honda currently offers the 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell model in California markets while GM, which has rolled up millions of hydrogen-powered test miles in various vehicles recently unveiled the Chevy Colorado ZH2, an experimental truck created for the military.
"With the next-generation fuel cell system, GM and Honda are making a dramatic step toward lower cost, higher-volume fuel cell systems,” stated Charlie Freese, GM executive director of Global Fuel Cell Business. In addition to slicing the price as well as making the power cells both smaller and lighter, Freese pointed out the shared effort also has “dramatically” reduced the amount of precious metals required by each. Another benefit of the cross functional team lies in its ability to simultaneously develop more efficient manufacturing processes while making advances in the basic cell design.
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