GM, Honda Form Fuel Cell Venture
General Motors Co. and Honda Motor Co. are forming a 50:50 joint venture to build fuel cell stacks for next-generation vehicles at GM’s plant in Brownstown Township, Mich.
The companies plan to invest $85 million in the facility, which will make fuel cell stacks that both carmakers plan to use in their own vehicles by about 2020. The venture, dubbed Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, expands the fuel cell development partnership the companies announced in 2013.
The new fuel cell systems will be smaller, lighter and less expensive than existing units, according to the partners. At a press briefing on Monday, GM showed a prototype stack that is about the size of a 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder combustion engine.
The jointly produced module will consist of the fuel cell stack and related cooling, fluid, gas and electrical components. Performance can be differentiated by changing the number of layers or cells in the fuel cell stack.
GM and Honda will develop and source other components for fuel cell vehicles—including batteries, electric motors and hydrogen storage tanks—on their own. The companies also are working with governments and other partners to build a hydrogen refueling infrastructure.
GM currently makes battery packs for hybrid and electric vehicles at the Brownstown plant. The joint venture is expected to add 100 jobs to the facility. The investment will be used for installing new equipment and other unspecified renovations.
The new fuel cell module is being developed by engineering teams at GM’s research center in Pontiac, Mich., and at Honda’s global tech center in Tochigi, Japan.
Honda launched its Clarity fuel cell vehicle in Japan and the U.S. last year. Toyota and Hyundai also market low-volume fuel cell vehicles in select markets.
The Clarity’s fuel cell stack is handmade at a Honda workshop in Tochigi. Honda plans to phase out production of that stack once the joint venture ramps up production of the next-generation system.
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