GM and Honda step up on fuel cells

Michigan plant will manufacture next-gen prototype of hydrogen fuel cells

GM and Honda step up on fuel cells
Honda and GM are pursuing industrial applications of hydrogen fuel cells

Detroit OEM GM and Japan's Honda have begun mass production of hydrogen fuel cells at a joint venture (JV) plant in Michigan, in what the firms says is the first large-scale manufacturing facility of its type.

The JV — known as Fuel Cell System Manufacturing (FCSM) — is developing a fuel cell for industrial and automotive applications, as well as a next-generation prototype fuel cell.

Honda and GM engineers began work in 2013 on the co-development of a next-generation fuel cell system, and FCSM says it has made breakthroughs on cost reduction and durability.

"In addition to advancing performance, the companies have collaborated to double durability compared to the 2019 Honda Clarity fuel cell by using corrosion-resistant materials and by improving low-temperature operation," the JV says.

FCSM will unveil its next-gen fuel cell prototype in late April, which FCSM says will be two-thirds less expensive to make than the Honda Clarity fuel cell.

The firms are exploring industrial and commercial applications for hydrogen fuel cells, as the technology struggles to make commercial headway in the automotive industry.

"Honda aims to stimulate demand for hydrogen by expanding its application to products and businesses, focusing on four application areas, including FCEVs and commercial vehicles, stationary power stations, and construction machinery," the JV continues.

Honda offers a range of passenger FCEVs for sale in Japan and the US and has developed an FCEV variant of its new compact SUV the CR-V.

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But meagre sales figures and a lack of surrounding infrastructure has diminished the technology's chances of being a major player in the automotive industry in years to come.

FCEVs have not yet proved commercially viable, and only 14,000 FCEVs were sold worldwide in 2023, according to South Korean consultancy SNE Research.

GM struck a December deal with Japanese mining equipment manufacturer Komatsu to co-develop a hydrogen fuel cell power module for Komatsu’s 930E electric drive mining truck.

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