Today’s electric vehicles (EVs) usually use lithium-ion batteries, while there is always a bunch of people that are engaging in developing fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). Honda and General Motors (GM) are two of them, who have signed to establish a manufacturing joint venture for mass production of advanced hydrogen fuel cell system.
California requires motor makers to sell a certain ratio of “zero-emission” cars since 2018, indicating an upward trend of EVs in the U.S. Hence, Honda and GM announced to jointly invest US$85 million in establishing Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, LLC (FCSM) on January 30 to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cell systems.
FCSM 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. On the contrary, Honda’s production in factory in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan will be gradually phased out in the future.
FCSM joint venture will be operated by a board of directors consisting of three executives from each company that will include a rotating chairperson. In addition, a president will be appointed to rotate between each company.
Honda and GM, both leaders in fuel cell technology, have been working together through a master collaboration agreement announced in July 2013. 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-generation fuel cell system," said Toshiaki Mikoshiba, chief operating officer of the North American Region for Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and president & CEO of American Honda Co., Inc. and Honda North America, Inc. "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."
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.
"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."
(Photo Credit: GM)