Honda and GM to Build Next-Generation Fuel Cell Stacks in MI


31 January, 2017

The joint venture, Fuel Cell System Manufacturing will begin producing the fuel cell systems around 2020 at GM's Brownstown Township, Mich., plant south of Detroit, where the automaker already produces battery packs for hybrid and electric vehicles. The work is expected to create almost 100 new jobs, the company said.

GM and Honda have more than 2,220 patents between them, according to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index. It has been commonly known that Honda had been holding off the advancement of a replacement for its existing Clarity fuel cell vehicle, this is the first time that its replacement has been hinted at. Fuel cell vehicles combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, which runs a motor.

"The United States is where demand for fuel cell vehicles is going to be among the highest so we've made a decision to consolidate our manufacturing operations into one location there", Honda spokesman Teruhiko Tatebe said at a joint news briefing in Tokyo. The Clarity Fuel Cell received the best driving range rating from the EPA of any electric vehicle without a combustion engine with a range rating of 366 miles and fuel economy rating of 68 miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent combined.

Fuel cell vehicles operate on hydrogen. GM previously announced a partnership with Honda to mutually develop production fuel cell technology back in 2013, and their timelines were remarkably similar to the one announced today. They'll also work together on setting up fueling stations to make the cars marketable.

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Each will appoint three executives to a board of directors that will run the joint venture. With two of the biggest automotive manufactures partnering in bringing this technology to fruition, we'll eventually begin to see it in both future Honda and GM models. In addition to Toyota's Mirai, Hyundai leases a hydrogen fuel cell Tucson, and Mercedes-Benz has in the past equipped some sedans with the hydrogen fuel cell system.

Charlie Freese, GM executive director of global fuel cell business, stated that upcoming fuel-cell systems will be "a fraction of the size and mass" of existing units. GM and Honda collaborated in a powertrain cross-supply arrangement in 1999. GM on the other hand, has collaborated with the USA military for it's hydrogen fuel cell tech.

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