GM, Honda to make fuel cells to­gether

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

DETROIT — Gen­eral Mo­tors and Honda to­day an­nounced es­tab­lish­ment of 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.

Fuel Cell Sys­tem Man­u­fac­tur­ing, LLC will op­er­ate within GM’s ex­ist­ing battery pack man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity site in Brown­stown, Michi­gan, south of Detroit.

Mass pro­duc­tion of fuel cell sys­tems is ex­pected to be­gin around 2020 and cre­ate nearly 100 new jobs. The com­pa­nies are mak­ing equal in­vest­ments to­tal­ing $85 mil­lion in the joint ven­ture.

Honda and GM have been work­ing to­gether through a mas­ter col­lab­o­ra­tion agree­ment an­nounced in July 2013.

It 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.

“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,” said Toshi­aki Mikoshiba, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of the North Amer­i­can Re­gion for 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.”

GM and Honda are ac­knowl­edged lead­ers in fuel cell tech­nol­ogy with more than 2 220 patents be­tween them, ac­cord­ing to the Clean En­ergy Patent Growth In­dex. “The com­bi­na­tion of two lead­ers in fuel cell in­no­va­tion is an ex­cit­ing de­vel­op­ment in bring­ing fuel cells closer to the main­stream of propul­sion ap­pli­ca­tions,” said Mark Reuss, GM ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent, Global Prod­uct De­vel­op­ment, Pur­chas­ing and Sup­ply Chain. “The even­tual de­ploy­ment of this tech­nol­ogy in pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles will cre­ate more dif­fer­en­ti­ated and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly trans­porta­tion op­tions for con­sumers.”

Bet­ter than bat­ter­ies and petrol

Fuel cell tech­nol­ogy 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. Wa­ter vapour is the only emis­sion from fuel cell ve­hi­cles.

In ad­di­tion to ad­vanc­ing the per­for­mance of the fuel cell sys­tem, GM and Honda are work­ing to­gether to re­duce the cost of de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing through economies of scale and com­mon sourc­ing.

The two com­pa­nies also con­tinue to work with gov­ern­ments and other stake­hold­ers to fur­ther ad­vance the re­fu­el­ing in­fra­struc­ture that is crit­i­cal for the longterm vi­a­bil­ity and con­sumer ac­cep­tance of fuel cell ve­hi­cles.

GM is cur­rently demon­strat­ing the ca­pa­bil­ity of fuel cells across a range of land, sea and air ap­pli­ca­tions. The com­pany has ac­cu­mu­lated mil­lions of miles of re­al­world driv­ing in fuel cell ve­hi­cles.

“With the next-generation fuel cell sys­tem, GM and Honda are mak­ing a dra­matic step to­ward lower cost, higher-vol­ume fuel cell sys­tems.

“Pre­cious me­tals have been re­duced dra­mat­i­cally and a fully cross-func­tional team is de­vel­op­ing ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses si­mul­ta­ne­ously with ad­vances in the de­sign,” said Char­lie Freese, GM ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Global Fuel Cell Busi­ness.

“The re­sult is a lower-cost sys­tem that is a frac­tion of the size and mass.”

— Supplied.

PHOTO: GM

GM Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent Global Prod­uct De­vel­op­ment Mark Reuss (left) and Pres­i­dent Honda North Amer­ica Toshi­aki Mikoshiba an­nounce a man­u­fac­tur­ing joint ven­ture to mass pro­duce an ad­vanced hy­dro­gen fuel cell sys­tem.

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