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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.

Honda hopes to make the hydrogen vehicle "as affordable as possible."

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 (as you can see in the infographic below) 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. The joint press release with more details is available below.

Show full PR text
GM, Honda to Collaborate on Next-Generation Fuel Cell Technologies
Goal is commercially feasible fuel cell and hydrogen storage in 2020 time frame


2013-07-02

NEW YORK – General Motors (NYSE: GM) and Honda (NYSE: HMC) announced today a long-term, definitive master agreement to co-develop next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies, aiming for the 2020 time frame. The collaboration expects to succeed by sharing expertise, economies of scale and common sourcing strategies.

GM and Honda plan to work together with stakeholders to further advance refueling infrastructure, which is critical for the long-term viability and consumer acceptance of fuel cell vehicles.

GM and Honda are acknowledged leaders in fuel cell technology. According to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index, GM and Honda rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in total fuel cell patents filed between 2002 and 2012, with more than 1,200 between them.

"This collaboration builds upon Honda and GM's strengths as leaders in hydrogen fuel cell technology," said Dan Akerson, GM chairman and CEO. "We are convinced this is the best way to develop this important technology, which has the potential to help reduce the dependence on petroleum and establish sustainable mobility."

Takanobu Ito, president & CEO of Honda Motor Co. Ltd. said: "Among all zero CO2 emission technologies, fuel cell electric vehicles have a definitive advantage with range and refueling time that is as good as conventional gasoline cars. Honda and GM are eager to accelerate the market penetration of this ultimate clean mobility technology, and I am excited to form this collaboration to fuse our leading fuel cell technologies and create an advanced system that will be both more capable and more affordable."

GM's Project Driveway program, launched in 2007, has accumulated nearly 3 million miles of real-world driving in a fleet of 119 hydrogen-powered vehicles, more than any other automaker.

Honda began leasing of the Honda FCX in 2002 and has deployed 85 units in the U.S. and Japan, including its successor, the FCX Clarity, which was named the 2009 World Green Car. Honda has delivered these vehicles to the hands of customers in the U.S. and collected valuable data concerning real-world use of fuel cell electric vehicles.

As already announced, Honda plans to launch the successor of FCX Clarity in Japan and the United States in 2015, and then in Europe. GM will announce its fuel cell production plans at a later date.

Fuel cell technology addresses many of the major challenges facing automobiles today – petroleum dependency, emissions, efficiency, range and refueling times. Fuel cell vehicles can operate on renewable hydrogen made from sources like wind and biomass. The only emission from fuel cell vehicles is water vapor.

Additionally, fuel cell vehicles can have up to 400 miles driving range, can be refueled in as little as three minutes, and the propulsion technology can be used on small, medium, and large vehicles.

About General Motors Co.
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.

# # #

About Honda Motor Co.
Honda Motor Co. (NYSE: HMC) Honda designs, manufactures and markets automobiles, motorcycles and power products worldwide. A global leader in powertrain and electromotive technologies, Honda produces more than 25 million engines annually for its three product lines. Honda and its partners build products in more than 60 manufacturing plants in 27 countries, employing more than 179,000 associates globally.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 102 Comments
      Julian
      • 10 Months Ago
      Message to the editors. This is a discussion of Hydrogen. Could you please move it off the "green" section of the website. Advertising fossil fuels as green does not make it so,
      StaceyS
      • 1 Year Ago
      If car companies had put this much effort into battery chemistries and battery technology, we'd be much further ahead (not to mention all of the other ancillary benefits in improving battery tech for all our other battery powered devices like laptops and cell phones). I've got no proof of this, but I get the impression that the oil companies have played a role in the background in slowing vehicle advancement to alternative fuels, or even improved fuel efficiency. Why the auto manufacturers still believe they are beholden to the oil companies is beyond me. I guess they lack confidence in their own engineering departments.
        Cayman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @StaceyS
        So we should only work on one possible solution at a time???
        ammca66564
        • 1 Year Ago
        @StaceyS
        What gives you the idea that research into better batteries has been neglected?
          Ele Truk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ammca66564
          How about the CARB fight in the early 2000s? Rather than spend money improving EVs, they spent it in court fighting the ZEV mandate. 10 years R&D lost.
      EZEE
      • 1 Year Ago
      (Movie announcer voice) Hydrogen Fuel Cells - Summer, 2020 This time...it's personal!
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @EZEE
        Starring: Tugg Speedman as the CEO of Honda Motors
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          :D 'Tugg Speedman' sounds like someone's porn name! :D
        • 1 Year Ago
        @EZEE
        LOL, too bad Don LaFontaine is no longer with us to do the voice. According to research by Ulf Bossel, hydrogen is three times less efficient to make and convert to electricity in a fuel cell than to store the electricity in a battery to propel a car. http://fuelcellforum.com/reports/E04.pdf
      Gordon Chen
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why are they still working on this vaporware?!
        WheelMcCoy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Gordon Chen
        I've been breaking my head on this question too. The only reasonable answer is to follow the money. 1. this spreads fud on electric cars, which are here today. 2. hydrogen fuel cells still involve big oil because petroleum is still required to make and ship H2. Sigh. Too bad All would be better served if big oil started thinking of themselves as big energy and build out a supercharger infrastructure.
      raktmn
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sebastian, I'd like to submit a news tip for the year 2018. Here is what the news will be in July 2018: "Automakers today announced that 2025 will be the Year of the H2 Fuel Cell. In testimony in front of CARB requesting that ZEV mandates be cut, the automakers have announced that for certain they really will have H2 Fuel Cell cars and Hydrogen refueling stations widely available by the year 2025. For sure this time, not just a demonstration fleet. Tesla's representative drove from LA to Sacramento and back with a single 20 minute charging stop at a 4th generation Dual-Supercharger, driving Tesla's new, completely revised Tesla Model S 120P with 500+ mile range. When given his chance to speak in front of CARB, the Tesla representative laughed and pointed at the other car makers for his entire allotted time, then drove home. Total cost of fuel to make the round-trip just to laugh in the gas car maker's faces: $0 dollars." If you could just file that away for July of 2018, and then publish it, that would be cool. Thanks, raktmn
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow thats hilarious because I met with Larry Burns, former head of R&D at GM, and even managed some hydrogen fueling infrastructure for a number of Auto Cos. One thing that was very clear was you'll not be able to produce hydrogen economically.....not by a long shot. Unless they've developed an entirely new way to produce hydrogen, then this is just a bunch of PR spin and totally useless. Please be smarter than this when publishing otherwise you're just doing free marketing for them without calling them out on BS. Its your responsibility or this is just senseless news and worst grade journalism.
        Dave
        • 1 Year Ago
        Hydrogen is already produced economically in massive quantities by steam methane reformation. Take 10 seconds to google it.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Year Ago
        Could you give some details about the hydrogen refueling infrastructure you managed? Locations, equipment, timeframes? Thanks...
      groingo
      • 1 Year Ago
      WHY?
        Dave
        • 1 Year Ago
        @groingo
        Because carbon fiber tanks are cheaper and lighter than batteries. Unfortunately, they are both heavier and more expensive than gasoline.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave
          That is very true in the short term. Though with gasoline at $3.40+ and electricity at ~11 cents a kWh, not true over the lifetimes of many vehicles.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave
          Because the only large expense for H2FCVs are the Tank??? EVs have an expensive battery, but after that, operating costs are dirt cheap. FCVs have an expensive tank, Fuel Cell stack, they still need a battery anyway... and REQUIRES several hundred H2 stations to be built BEFORE consumers would feel comfortable buying the first batch. Sorry, but you cannot pick and choose only the H2 tank as the only thing to compare to batteries.
        WheelMcCoy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @groingo
        I've been scratching my head on this question too. The only reasonable answer is to follow the money. Big oil has no interest in electric cars. They do, however, have a stake in hydrogen fuel cells because it still takes petroleum to make H2 as well as to ship it. This all may just be an effort to spread FUD on electric cars Too bad. All would be better served if big oil started thinking of themselves as big energy and build out a supercharger infrastructure.
      Reggie
      • 1 Year Ago
      Honda sold/leased 5 Clarity's in the USA in 2012, will they mind GM muscling in on their market?
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Year Ago
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/renee-jain/negativity-bias_b_3517365.html Some good advice for those who really, really don't want to read anything about fuel cells. Try not reading the articles, and then you won't have anything to get upset about. :)
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        I will say, Chris M, at least you wait until days after the conversation has died to pipe in. You avoid all the kerfluffel by commenting days after a post has left the first page.
        Chris M
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Oh, it doesn't bother me to read about doomed-to-fail projects, it makes the schadenfreud all the sweeter when they do fail.
      Dave
      • 1 Year Ago
      Apparently, Hyundai is going it alone. Ford, Daimler and Renault-Nissan have teamed up. BMW and Toyota have teamed up. Volkswagen group has contracted with Ballard for engineering services. And now Honda and GM have hooked up. I believe that only leaves Fiat Chrysler. Sergio Marchionne doesn't seem to have any affinity for batteries or fuel cells, apparently believing that natural gas ICE will rule for several decades.
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dave
        Fiat is still depending upon the diesel engine to save them. They have an excellent reputation in the EU for their diesels, and it looks like they are trying to milk every ounce out of that technology before moving forward. Sort of like Toyota and the non-plug-in Hybrid. I expect to hear nothing but negative things from Fiat about EV's and Fuel Cells, right up until the day they decide to put one into production. Then magically they will start saying how awesome they are. It seems like this is the game many car makers are using.
          j
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          Funny, some reviewers like the 500EV so much that they claim it's the best EV available, that is not a Tesla. And Fiat exclaims...nothing, total and complete silence.
        The Wasp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dave
        Maybe Fiat will wait until someone else figures it out and finds a market for it. I think they should put more focus on hybrids or all-electric and leave hydrogen for later.
      korblalak
      • 1 Year Ago
      Two thumbs down.
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'll just wait for my Tesla.
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