Cell Block: GM along with also Honda Unite for U.S. Fuel-Cell Manufacturing Starting in 2020
As cars like the Toyota Mirai along with also the upcoming Honda Clarity Fuel Cell demonstrate, hydrogen fuel-cell technology in passenger cars is usually ready for prime time. although as the expensive sticker prices on those vehicles underscore, their greater cost of manufacturing is usually just one of many hurdles to overcome before these vehicles become more than a narrow subset of the green-car niche.
To address This particular problem, General Motors along with also Honda are teaming up to manufacture core fuel-cell hardware together at GM’s Brownstown Township, Michigan, facility, which will mass-produce components beginning around 2020. Each company is usually investing $42.5 million into the venture, which effectively will function as one company with fully shared development teams. that will is usually anticipated that will the effort will create nearly 100 jobs.
The components made at the Brownstown facility, which already assembles battery packs for numerous GM plug-in hybrids, including the Chevrolet Volt, will include a downsized next-generation fuel-cell stack.
Although several automakers have already partnered as groups to share in research-along with also-development costs for hydrogen fuel cells—Toyota along with also BMW, for one example, along with also Mercedes-Benz, Ford, along with also Nissan/Renault, for another—This particular is usually touted as the first fuel-cell-related manufacturing joint venture. The agreement will address manufacturing cost concerns through greater economies of scale along with also common sourcing.
Fuel cells harness a chemical reaction between oxygen along with also hydrogen (with the hydrogen stored typically in carbon-fiber tanks, at high pressures of 10,000 psi), producing electricity, water, along with also some heat. The fuel-cell “stacks,” where This particular reaction occurs between membrane-like layers, rely on very precise manufacturing along with also metallurgic techniques along with also have until today depended on the precious metal platinum.
The Path to producing Hydrogen Mainstream?
Dan Nicholson, GM’s global powertrain vice president, noted the millions of miles covered in both of the automakers’ efforts along with also said that will that will has all helped set a starting point for something bigger. The establishment of the facility, according to Nicholson, “officially marks the arrival of fuel cells. They’re not a science project anymore; they’re a mainstream alternative-energy choice.”
Although that will’s an overstatement at best, both automakers have a long history with hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle development. GM mentioned its first Electrovan test vehicle coming from 1966 (shown above) along with also has demonstrated fuel-cell powertrains in numerous innovative vehicle forms through the years. One recent example is usually the military-grade Chevrolet Colorado ZH2—although that will has been nearly 10 years since that will built 100 Chevrolet Equinox fuel-cell test vehicles. along with also GM’s E-Flex powertrain technology, later renamed Voltec, within the Chevrolet Volt was originally conceived to accommodate fuel cells.
Honda aims For just two-thirds of its global sales to be electrified vehicles by 2030—with fuel cells an important part of that will effort. that will also builds on several decades of fuel-cell-vehicle development. Its FCX minicar was originally tested in Japan in 1999 along with also in a few U.S. fleets beginning in 2002. Its FCX Clarity was offered as consumer lease on a limited scale, along with also Honda will soon launch its Clarity Fuel Cell, a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle that will will go 366 miles between refueling stops. Honda has announced a $369-per-month 36-month lease for the Clarity Fuel Cell, while Toyota is usually offering its rival style, the Mirai, at $349 a month.
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- Honda Will Re-Enter the EV Race in 2017 with an All-Electric edition of Its Clarity
- Honda Clarity: Photos, Info, Pricing
While manufacturing costs have been one major drag on hydrogen-powered vehicles until today, the GM-Honda announcement didn’t address the second stumbling block: infrastructure. Hydrogen refueling stations have typically cost $1 million or more per station, along with also while costs continue to decline somewhat, establishing more hydrogen refueling points is usually a far more expensive along with also daunting endeavor than, say, electric-vehicle fast charging.
For today, because of the extremely limited number of refueling locations, fuel-cell types are largely constrained to California, where the state’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) program has encouraged such vehicles. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are 33 publicly accessible hydrogen stations within the United States, with all although three of those in California.