Not Giving up on Hydrogen, GM and Honda Announce Joint Venture in Michigan

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
not giving up on hydrogen gm and honda announce joint venture in michigan

A quick look at the automotive landscape of 2017 tells us that electricity, long relegated to golf courses and RC cars, is the chosen successor to gasoline and diesel propulsion. However, automakers are hedging their bets on the best way to create those electrons.

Despite a critically meager refueling infrastructure, hydrogen lives on as a potential source for that energy, and select automakers continue a quest to equip our future vehicles with containers of lighter-than-air gas. To this end, General Motors and Honda partnered up back in 2013.

Now, we know the next step in the two automotive rivals’ plan.

Announced today, GM and Honda will form a manufacturing joint venture based out of GM’s Brownstown, Michigan battery pack facility. Carrying the name Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, LLC, the venture kicked off following two investments totaling $85 million. The purpose of the venture is simple: produce fuel cells, starting in 2020, to power future models.

Both automakers have a good grasp on the technology, with each holding numerous patents. GM created its first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in 1966, though that space program creation was designed to test the technology for use on other heavenly bodies. Honda currently sells the Clarity — one of the very few hydrogen-powered vehicles on the market.

The two companies signed a collaboration agreement in 2013, combining the work of both development teams towards a goal of creating next-generation fuel cells and hydrogen storage systems. If the future does run on electricity created from hydrogen, GM and Honda want to be leaders.

Apparently, engineers didn’t just spend the past three years doodling. There’s something to show for their efforts.

“With the next-generation fuel cell system, GM and Honda are making a dramatic step toward lower cost, higher-volume fuel cell systems,” said Charlie Freese, GM executive director of Global Fuel Cell Business.

“Precious metals have been reduced dramatically and a fully cross-functional team is developing advanced manufacturing processes simultaneously with advances in the design. The result is a lower-cost system that is a fraction of the size and mass.”

Unlike vehicle design, fuel cell development follows the “smaller, lighter, cheaper” mantra. Unfortunately, these advances benefit absolutely no one if there’s nowhere to fuel up a vehicle. That’s where the advocacy side of the partnership comes in.

“The two companies also continue to work with governments and other stakeholders to further advance the refueling infrastructure that is critical for the long-term viability and consumer acceptance of fuel cell vehicles,” Honda said in a statement.

[Image: Honda]

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  • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Jan 30, 2017

    Hydrogen is dead as long as oil remains around $50 per barrel, and with Trump building pipelines and encouraging energy production, oil will remain at current levels for potentially decades to come.

  • Tosh Tosh on Feb 02, 2017

    Dirty GM tactic to ruin Honda by spending on big-oil driven fuel cell project, and then pick up the pieces. And Honda was already spending itself lightheaded on F1, so there is LESS THAN NO MONEY left for actual Honda consumer product in the near term. Bye Honda.

  • MaintenanceCosts They can't keep selling through the current hodgepodge mess of desperate or disreputable dealers. Somehow the sales model has to change. Whether they become the Don Quixote that tilts at the franchise-law windmill to sell direct, or they cut a deal to get into another OEM's dealer network, something has to change.They've always been able to engineer competitive cars when they want to, but they haven't had a reasonable way to sell them since the Chrysler tie-up ended.
  • Sgeffe There’s a guy on YouTube who owns several Oldsmobile Diesel-equipped vehicles, including an A-Body with the 4.3 V6. Might be the Chevy.IIRC, Adam Wade on the “Rare Classic Cars” channel stated that this engine was also available in 1985 only in the redesigned C-Bodies (98 Regency, Electra, DeVille/Fleetwood).
  • Tassos It's a GREAT value, but what, if any, profit will GM make from this vehicle? When it prices it at only $30k, while the much smaller and much CRAPPIER FIAT 500E goes for OVER $40k????
  • Tassos The consumers (not the "market") DO trust EVs, but those that are superior and well-priced,THey buy millions of TESLAS and very few copies of all the other dozens and dozens of LEGACY BEVs.Makes sense to me. None of these experienced makers have YET succeeded to design and build a better Tesla, that is ALSO PRICED COMPETITIVELY.
  • Tassos NOBODY really HAS to buy a new or even used car in this insane 2022 market, and those who do are damned fools.THIS IS the way to discourage dealer markup. FIX your damn car and DO NOT GO BEGGING THEM TO GIVE YOU A NEW ONE, in this BIGGEST SELLER's MARKET EVER.DO NOT BE AN ECON ILLITERATE. WAIT A YEAR OR TWO, THEN BUY.