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GM and Honda to establish industry-first $85M joint fuel cell system manufacturing operation in Michigan

General Motors and Honda are establishing the auto industry’s first manufacturing joint venture—Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, LLC, FCSM)—to mass-produce an advanced hydrogen fuel cell system that will be used in future products from each company. Over the past three years, GM and Honda have been collaborating on next-generation fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems, aiming at commercialization in the 2020 time frame. (Earlier post.)

The co-developed new generation stack builds on the compact size and high-performance of Honda’s current generation stack in the Clarity (earlier post) by achieving significant cost reductions. 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. The companies are making equal investments totaling $85 million in the joint venture.


Next-generation fuel cell stack co-developed by Honda and GM. Click to enlarge.

The master collaboration agreement announced in July 2013 established the co-development arrangement for a next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies. (Earlier post.) 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-gen fuel cell system. 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.

—Toshiaki Mikoshiba, chief operating officer of the North American Region for Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and president of Honda North America, Inc.

The Fuel Cell System Manufacturing (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.

GM and Honda are acknowledged leaders in fuel cell technology with more than 2,220 patents between them, according to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index. GM and Honda rank No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, in total fuel cell patents filed in 2002 through 2015.

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

—Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain“

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. The two companies also continue to work with governments and other stakeholders to further advance the refueling infrastructure that is critical for the long-term viability and consumer acceptance of fuel cell vehicles.

GM is currently demonstrating the capability of fuel cells across a range of land, sea and air applications. The company has accumulated millions of miles of real-world driving in fuel cell vehicles.

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. The result is a lower-cost system that is a fraction of the size and mass.

—Charlie Freese, GM executive director of Global Fuel Cell Business

Honda began delivery of its all-new Clarity Fuel Cell vehicle—its third-generation fuel cell vehicle—to US customers in December 2016 following a spring 2016 launch in Japan. The Clarity Fuel Cell received the best driving range rating from the EPA of any electric vehicle without a combustion engine with a range rating of 366 miles and fuel economy rating of 68 miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent combined.

GM and Honda earlier collaborated in a powertrain cross-supply arrangement in 1999 under which Honda manufactured 50,000 V-6 engines for the Saturn VUE and Honda received diesel engines from GM’s Isuzu affiliate for use in Europe.



Work on HTPEM then run them on bio DME.


And here is Panasonic, proving there is more to them than producing batteries for Teslas, working away to introduce in the 2020-30 timeframe everything from hydrogen direct by electrolysis from sunlight to hydrogen storage and home hydrogen fuel dispensers, as well as heating and providing electricity for homes and businesses by using fuel cells and hydrogen:


Don't have a problem with hydrogen created from solar panel electrolysis; but, if it is created from burning fossil fuel in the atmosphere by reforming, that's just plain wasting energy and causing pollution.


It can be batteries AND fuel cells. Planes can reform bio Jet-A with cars, buses and trucks using bio DME in HTPEMs with new anode catalysts.

Using waste products from paper plants bio synthetic fuels can be made for all kinds of transportation. The technology is here we just have to have the intelligence and will to use it wisely.


The H2 pathway is a very clean way to use excess REs and store the energy (H2) for use (latter) in FCEVs, planes, home and industrial units.

Total cost/price per kWh may be more than with battery storage systems but you get more flexibility and more total capacity for heavy usages.

Electrolysers and FCs will evolve and cost will go down while capacity/performance goes up. With much lower cost excess REs, H2 will eventually cost a lot less.


From the link I gave above about what Panasonic is up to:

'Since November 2016, 3 units of Panasonic’s prototype hydrogen fuel cell have been installed in the “Yume Solar Kan Yamanashi” in Komekurayama, Yamanashi Prefecture. Panasonic is conducting its demonstration experiment in cooperation with the prefectural government. Yamanashi, home of the World Heritage site, Mt. Fuji, has a high awareness for preventing and reducing disasters, and it has also been one of the earliest prefectures to adopt mega solar. Using the energy management system, this facility sorts 10,000kW of energy created from solar power generation into “stable” and “unstable” energy. Stable energy is then supplied to the grid, and the remaining unstable energy will be injected into the large-scale water electrolysis device to electrolyze tap water. It is estimated that annually 450,000Nm3 (normal cubic meter) of hydrogen will be created. And experiments are being conducted to use this hydrogen to generate electricity with the 3 hydrogen fuel cells, which will be cooperatively controlled to respond to the changes in demand.'


Proven one-step process to convert CO2 and water directly into liquid hydrocarbon fuel...



I have repeatedly and consistently argued on this forum that it is folly to seek to dismiss hydrogen and fuel cell technology, together with other means of chemical energy storage, in favour of the notion that everything can be done with batteries, although the exact split will be determined by how those technologies do.

But way before that I argued in favour of nuclear technology, with the main drawback being that they weren't building much of it in the West.

But now China is getting to the point where its pebble bed reactors can be build modularly, as drop in replacements in coal burning power stations, using the same turbines etc as they are high temperature.

Other modular reactors are also being developed.

In my view used in conjunction all these various technologies have synergy, and can do a much better job together than the one size fits all approach some advocate.

So for instance nuclear for baseload would greatly reduce the chemical storage needed to store renewables, and solar with storage would do a good job in the US for peak load which is highest in summer heat due to air con.

Which is to say that the more tools and technologies we have at hand to make and store energy the better.


If we get out of the "only" way then look at the benefits of using many ways, we might just make some progress.


Nothing wrong with the development of NPPs to reduce initial cost by at least 50% to 66% to make them more competitive.

In many countries, with sunny weather and/or high quality winds, very low cost REs can be produced for as long as the sun shines and wind blows. Storage systems (with batteries or via the H2 route) will soon become cheaper and more efficient. REs fed batteries and FCs may become the backbone of clean future BEVs and FCEVs.


The trick is to NOT BURN CARBON IN THE ATMOSPHERE. Anything else works as long as you don't create a nasty residue. Solve the nuclear storage problem and reduce the expenses and nuclear power could also be acceptable.


Another issue battery only advocates ignore together with that of storage of renewables over winter is that of somewhere to plug in.

Most cities in the world have nowhere that most of their inhabitants can conveniently plug in.

Wiring up every roadside is a fantasy, rather than something we can remotely approach doing at any reasonable price, and what do you do if your bit of kerb is occupied?

Notions that people are going to spend lots of time sitting at even relatively fast charging stations every week are also unrealistic for non-enthusiasts.

We need all the tools we have got to de-carbonise transport, including fuel cell cars.

The situation in California should not be generalised to that in the rest of the world where conditions are very different, with longer, harsher winters in many places and nowhere to conveniently charge.


@ HarveyD
H2 is extremely difficult to store without considerable losses. The only viable way is to bind H2 chemically with atmospheric CO2 to synthesize gas (methane) equivalent to NG. This modus is already being processed and exploited; it is not emissions free but emissions neutral.
E.g. during the summer months, electric power - produced by a PV-system - could be employed to produce methane which is stored for usage during the winter. A FC, capable to be fuelled directly with methane could reconvert e-power and utilize the waste heat for heating and warm (hot) water.
This is the only sensible method that I can conceive for utilisation of FCs. FCs are completely unsuitable for mobility purposes with the exception of hybrid solutions for aircraft and heavy equipment.


DME is not a greenhouse gas like methane.
It oxidizes in the atmosphere within hours.
It is also stored at 75 psi not 3000 psi.


@ Davemart
The salvation of humanity is certainly not sought in nuclear technology of any kind incl. pebble reactors. The eminent problem of safe nuclear waste storage remains no matter what type of design is employed.
Fusion power is a pipe dream or if ever - a far future event. For the time being, we would all be good advised to use available horse sense and make the best of what is available to us without endangering ourselves and future generations.



The ideal would be to produce more Wind/Sun REs (@ about 35+% combined) and store the surplus electricity into VERY low cost batteries (@90+% or so). The stored electricity could further be adapted to much high voltages (to match the grid) for longer distance e-transport and for general usage including BEVs.

That very clean method has at least 2 major problems:

1. the current very high cost of batteries.
2. the very low performance of current batteries.

Both barriers may fall by 2040 or so when high performance (1000+ Wh/Kg) batteries cost fall much below $1/kWh.


yoatman said:

'The eminent problem of safe nuclear waste storage remains no matter what type of design is employed.'

Since different technologies in nuclear produce vastly different amounts of waste, and some reduce the maximum life of the dangerous stuff from many thousands of years to around 300 years, which is well within the normal practise of the chemical industry for storage of all sorts of dangerous chemicals, you clearly have no idea whatsoever what you are talking about,

Do some research and it might be worth a substantial response.

Dr. Strange Love

These are all very Sober comments. I am anxious for Bill Gates China-based TerraPower TWR Nuclear reactor to prove successful. Will the initial U235 seed will work transforming U238 into the fissable (... to Pu239), but will the wave sustain outwards and remain Hot until it is fully spent Decades later. I think they are targeting 2020 to start. Does anybody know the Status? There is a 1000 years or more of Spent Containers stored in Kentucky alone. This is the fuel oxide I believe they will start with.

Also, I am waiting for home-based solar panels to become competitive with Dominion electric from a capital perspective. Electrolyzers, H2 storage and FCs would be cool when my demand is low. I have traditional Geothermal HP right now, but I will eventually replace this with a DC Geothermal setup and power it at times using direct sunlight or stored H2 and FCs.


Fast reactors would burn the more than 700,000 tons of depleted uranium stockpiled from enrichment. Many hundreds of years of electrical power just sitting there.

Dr. Strange Love

I agree. Counter to Yoatman, it better to use new Nuclear Designs to use (spend) the waste than to store the waste in perpetuity. It is the safer option.

Dr. Strange Love

Also for fusion, our practical understanding of fine structure QED and heuristics played out in the lab have come a long way. There are some interesting designs away from the traditional toroidal models of yesterday. I believe we are close to the "always 10-years away" pun in terms of commercial viability.


@ SJC, What is the well-to-wheels efficiency of this https://phys.org/news/2016-02-proven-one-step-co2-liquid-hydrocarbon.html process? It sounds energy intensive? My problem with fuel cells has always been the horrific inefficiency of isolating, compressing, transporting, and converting to electricity their fuel. This (http://phys.org/news/2006-12-hydrogen-economy-doesnt.html) is an older chart referring to H2 well-to-wheels being 1/3rd of BEV. If your initial input is renewable electricity, I have yet to see any chemical intermediary that doesn't flush 50-70% of the energy before it gets to the wheels. Even if you are getting your chemicals from waste streams that are already hot (which usually have scalability limits), I still strongly suspect the well-to-wheels conversion efficiency is poor compared to BEV. Also, Fuel Cell Vehicles need to have big batteries to handle acceleration and regenerative braking, so, why not just go all the way to BEV?

Dr. Strange Love

Wherever excess energy is not able to support the grid, generate hydrogen for FCs.

Dr. Strange Love

It makes sense to Throttle electric base load (NG, Nuclear, Hydro, Coal). Why would we ever want to Throttle Wind and Solar. Someday we may have too much Wind, Solar, Hot Geothermal, Wave, Hydro. If this happens, make fuels too.


Hi Healthy Breeze:

I will leave SJC to make his own response to the questions you put to him on the one step process, but I can't resist noting that you say:

' Also, Fuel Cell Vehicles need to have big batteries to handle acceleration and regenerative braking, so, why not just go all the way to BEV?'

These are ~1KWH batteries, just like hybrids, when the packs in BEVs are 60KWH for the Bolt and up to 100KWH for the Tesla's.

They are not remotely comparable.

And the Honda Clarity FCEV still gets more range than the best 100KWH Tesla, and way, way more range in the cold.

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