Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Honda & GM Team for Hydrogen/ Fuel Cell Projects

In January, Ford, Daimler and Nissan announced they would all work together on fuel cell technology. Toyota is getting ready for its own 2015 fuel cell car. Hyundai is delivering H2 vehicles today. The Department of Energy has a plan called H2USA. Put all this together, and the future of the hydrogen vehicle is finally getting a little clearer. Especially with today's announcement that General Motors and Honda have signed a "long-term, definitive master agreement" that will co-develop next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies. The companies hope to have these new technologies in vehicles in around 2020.

To be clear, this is not an announcement that the two OEMs will build a car together, just the hydrogen guts. The main reason for the collaboration – which follows the logic Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn laid out a few months ago – is that fuel cell starts with cost disadvantages compared to gas vehicles (e.g. the cost of the pressurized tank is higher than a plastic gas tank and there are expensive precious metals in the fuel cell stack) and it will be easier to reduce these costs in partnership. On top of this, GM and Honda want to reduce costs in whatever shared components will be in the resulting vehicles.
Since there was no actual car (or cars) announced, both companies declined questions on price targets for the resulting 2020 fuel cell model. Honda executive vice president Tetsuo Iwamura did say Honda hopes to make the vehicle "as affordable as possible." Currently, Honda leases the FCX Clarity (pictured) in California for $600 a month.

GM, which has its own long history with hydrogen, said it has "a lot of respect" for what Honda has done with H2 technologies and the companies' technologies "complement each other," said GM vice chairman Steven Girsky. GM has put almost three million miles onto its fuel cell test fleet over the years, including with Project Driveway.

The two companies will also be contributing to hydrogen infrastructure efforts, starting in the Golden State. There are about 10 H2 stations currently open in California, with plans to increase that to 25 or so in the next few years and then 100 stations beyond that. Both Honda and GM – and other automakers – are supporting this infrastructure growth and the beginnings of a hydrogen infrastructure are also in the works for Japan and Europe.
By: Sebastian Blanco

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