Automotive

GM and Honda team up for cheaper hydrogen fuel cells

GM and Honda team up for cheap...
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
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
View 3 Images
The fuel cell being produced by GM and Honda
1/3
The fuel cell being produced by GM and Honda
The GM and Honda fuel cell should enter mass production around 2020
2/3
The GM and Honda fuel cell should enter mass production around 2020
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
3/3
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
View gallery - 3 images

Hydrogen has long been thought of as an ideal alternative to fossil fuels in cars, because it fits in with our current driving habits. Although range is improving, battery electric vehicles still take a long time to recharge, whereas fuel-cell vehicles can be topped up in a matter of minutes. Even so, traditional electric cars tend to dominate the headlines, with few appealing hydrogen options on the market. That could change soon, with GM and Honda investing a combined US$85 million in the mass production of fuel cells.

Although Honda and GM first agreed on a hydrogen collaboration back in 2013, the past four years have been spent establishing an arrangement for the next-generation fuel cell and fuel storage technology. The two companies have pooled development resources, and intellectual property has been shared in search of a more efficient powertrain.

Environmental efficiency is crucial, but the real benefits to the tie-up between the two companies is cost. At the moment, hydrogen fuel cells are expensive to develop and build, which makes them expensive to buy for consumers. With slow sales and a very limited range of cars on the market, refuelling infrastructure is also limited, making it difficult for owners to fully enjoy the driving range of their cars.

By using common suppliers and increasing economies of scale at their Michigan plant, GM and Honda are hoping to drive down production costs. Both will also keep working with governments to grow the infrastructure necessary to make fuel-cell vehicles a viable long-term prospect. All things being equal, mass production of the fuel cell systems is expected to start around 2020.

"The combination of two leaders in fuel cell innovation is an exciting development in bringing fuel cells closer to the mainstream of propulsion applications," says GM's Mark Reuss. "The eventual deployment of this technology in passenger vehicles will create more differentiated and environmentally friendly transportation options for consumers."

This won't be the first time these two brands have dabbled in hydrogen technology. Honda was one of the first brands to create a consumer-ready hydrogen fuel cell model with the Clarity, and Chevrolet has the military ZH2 truck. BMW is also working to develop fuel cell cars, while Hyundai has the fuel cell ix35.

The new fuel cells will be built within GM's battery manufacturing facility in Michigan.

Source: GM

View gallery - 3 images
8 comments
JimFox
Hydrogen is still akin to fossil fuel- has to be generated, stored, transported & meet safety regs. Pressure vessels are heavy & massive for fueling stations. I wish them the best but doubt the vaunted 'hydrogen economy' will prove viable. Presently there is no economic way to make hydrogen; LFTR reactors would be ideal but are seemingly a long way off. General Motors and its partners estimated that per mile traveled, a fuel cell electric vehicle running on compressed gaseous hydrogen produced from natural gas could use about 40% less energy and emit 45% less greenhouse gasses than an internal combustion vehicle. Unimpressive, to say the least. ev's produce ZERO emissions with 98% conversion from electricity to kinetic energy. YEArs ago my home town leased two hydrogen buses for evaluation. They lasted 2 months...
VincentWolf
Infrastructure costs in a large nation like USA is prohibitively expensive whereas in japan the island and distances are small. Huge difference. 100,000+gas stations in the US. Thats a lot of terrorist targeta
SamB
If either GM or Honda could see large amounts of dollars in Hydrogen there is not a chance they would let others in on their IP. This is the death kiss for the technology - one last chance and something may pop up somewhere but it would surprise its corporate owners. For hydrogen to get equivalent range to current petrol vehicles you need to pressurise it to a degree that makes it a nice little bomb or alternatively you have very large volume tanks on your vehicle. It's just not going to happen but good luck to the believers.
fen
The energy grid is not 100% efficient and wont be in our life times, they will need fusion reactors, super conducting power lines, a quantum leap in battery technology. Each one of them wastes energy. So forget about 100% efficient and ask which is the cleanest tech right now. Hydrogen is. Even if we waste a bunch of solar energy creating the hydrogen its still clean to store and clean to transport. It can even be made on site in small quantities. The best bit about hydrogen is, if you go to visit Ireland or England or France or Italy and you get lost, you will be able to find a hydrogen refuel station, with a shop and with someone inside to talk to. Battery powered cars offer more pollution for a while and way less human interaction, and way more loss of jobs. So why dont we accept, yeah, right now hydrogen production is a problem, but its very clean, and it delivers an economy that can support our countries and our way of lives.
S Michael
Well.... I don't know who to warn in the ... love fest. Warn GM to watch out for Honda.... or Honda to watch out for GM... Both are, hummm whats the word.....Predators.
zr2s10
JimFox, that 40 and 45 likely include the entire cycle of hydrogen generation. Your estimate of ZERO emissions from electric vehicles does not. Even if you use renewable for generation, those technologies have an impact in their construction. Then there are the battery materials, which are not friendly to mine. Think of hydrogen as a gaseous battery. You can use electricity to create it from water, then turn it back into electricity in a fuel cell stack. Fuel cell vehicles still need some battery capacity as a buffer, but far less than a full EV. Hydrogen basically allows us faster "recharge" time, and to use additions to our existing infrastructure by adding hydrogen "outlets" to gas stations. Full EVs will never be the only option, because they take entirely too long to charge. Unless they somehow find a way to get 300 miles of range (min) in 5 minutes. Which Hydrogen can do.
KCR
This is a pretty dumb thing to invest in. Hydrogen is not a fuel. It is simply a means of storing energy and a very inefficient one at that. Currently, most commercial hydrogen production extracts the hydrogen from methane (a fossil fuel) as using electricity is so expensive and inefficient. The losses involved in generating, distributing and converting this hydrogen to power cars are far greater than those incurred by using an already existing infrastructure to just charge batteries. The only beneficiaries from this scheme will be the companies making the hydrogen (is this the new business model for the oil companies). And governments who can separate out expenditure on fuel for taxation. No benefit to the consumer.
habakak
KCR you said it. All the conversions involved in extracting hydrogen (it likes to bind to other atoms!) makes it way less efficient than using the same energy to charge a battery and power an electric car. VincentWolf....how many gas stations have terrorists blown up in US history???? Stop being so concerned about terrorist. Chances are 100 times greater that you will be harmed by an American.