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.