Honda, GM Team Up To Expand Their Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Technology

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【Summary】General Motors and Honda announced plans to invest $42.5 million each into furthering the automakers’ expansion in their fuel-cell partnership.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Mar 12, 2017 11:55 AM PT
Honda, GM Team Up To Expand Their Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Technology

There are two major trends that are sweeping across the automotive industry at the moment – electrification and autonomous technology. The majority of automakers see electric cars as the future, a way of being able to help the environment, while meeting strict emissions regulations. A few automakers, though, have also gone down the route of developing fuel-cell technology. And as a previous report by KMPG states, that hydrogen may overshadow electricity in the near future.

GM And Honda Back At It Again

Toyota and Honda, most notably, have fuel cell vehicles that are sold in California. But General Motors and Honda, as Reuters points out, formed an alliance back in 2013 that set its sights on developing the next generation of fuel cell systems and hydrogen storage technologies. The automakers' original goal had a 2020 time frame in mind for the release of the technology. 

Now, as The Detroit News reports, General Motors and Honda announced an equal investment plan that sees both automakers invest $42.5 million apiece into expanding their original fuel-cell partnership. The most recent investment will see a new manufacturing venture being built in southeast Michigan, which is quickly becoming the go-to location for companies to test autonomous vehicles, reports the outlet. 

The joint venture, which is the first of its kind, will be called Fuel Cell System Manufacturing LLC and operate inside General Motors' battery pack assembly plant in Brownstown Township. The facility currently manufacturers battery packs for the Chevrolet Volt and Bolt. 

Despite being a new venture, the original plan to produce a hydrogen fuel-cell system that can be used in cars still has an end date of 2020. According to the automakers, the venture would create approximately 100 new jobs. 

While teaming up on an idea that hasn't really gained any traction in the automotive industry may seem like a bad idea, TechCrunch reports that having two large automakers would help both Honda and General Motors lower manufacturing costs, boost production, and achieve better prices for components from suppliers. 

GM's Long History With Hydrogen

As TechCrunch points out, General Motors has been working on hydrogen fuel-cell technology for a number of years. And has worked across numerous industries. As the outlet points out, the automaker has been working with the U.S. Navy on a submarine drone that's powered by fuel-cell technology. There's also the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 test truck that features a fuel-cell powertrain for the U.S. Army. 

The automaker, according to TechCrunch, has invested approximately $3 billion in the development of fuel-cell technology and is looking to build a fuel-cell vehicle to sell to consumers by 2020. 

Honda, on the other hand, is one of the few automakers, that already has a fuel-cell vehicle on the road with the Clarity that is a lease-only vehicle for drivers in California. With Honda's know-how and General Motors' budget, facilities, and suppliers, the American automaker could release a fuel-cell vehicle in the near future. 

"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. 

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