GM, Honda join forces - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Storage, GHG Emissions, Industrial  -  February 2, 2017

GM, Honda join forces on fuel cell manufacturing

From left, General Motors Executive Vice President Global Product Development Mark Reuss, Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley and Honda CEO North American Region and President Honda North America Toshiaki Mikoshiba announcing the companies' fuel cell manufacturing joint venture. Source: 3BL Media

General Motors Co. and Honda Motor Co. recently established the auto industry's first manufacturing joint venture to mass produce an advanced hydrogen fuel cell system that will be used in future products from each company.

Honda and GM have been working together through a master collaboration agreement, announced in July 2013, that established the co-development arrangement for a next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies. The companies integrated their development teams and shared hydrogen fuel cell intellectual property to create a more affordable commercial solution for fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems.

According to a Jan. 30 news release, the joint venture — Fuel Cell System Manufacturing LLC — will operate within GM's existing battery pack manufacturing facility site in Brownstown, Mich., south of Detroit. Mass production of the fuel cell systems is expected to begin around 2020 and create nearly 100 new jobs, the companies said. 

Fuel cell technology, the automakers said in announcing the venture, addresses many of the major challenges facing automobiles today: petroleum dependency, emissions, efficiency, range and refueling times. Fuel cell vehicles can operate on hydrogen made from renewable sources such as wind and biomass, and water vapor is their only emission.

GM and Honda are making equal investments totaling $85 million in the joint venture, which will be operated by a board of directors consisting of three executives from each company and include a rotating chairperson. 

"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," Toshiaki Mikoshiba, chief operating officer of the North American Region for Honda Motor and president of Honda North America Inc., said in a statement "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 companies said their work in fuel cell technology has yielded more than 2,220 patents between them, according to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index. GM and Honda rank No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, in total fuel cell patents filed in 2002 through 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," Mark Reuss, GM's executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain said. "The eventual deployment of this technology in passenger vehicles will create more differentiated and environmentally friendly transportation options for consumers."


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