Honda And General Motors Team Up For Next-Gen Fuel Cell Technologies
July 4, 2013

GM And Honda Shift Gears To Develop Automobile Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

Auto giants General Motors and Honda announced this week they are joining forces to collaborate on the development of hydrogen fuel cells for automobiles. The two companies said on Tuesday they plan to develop new hydrogen storage and fuel cell technologies by 2020, while also pushing for greater hydrogen fueling station infrastructure.

This collaboration reportedly looks to share expertise, economies of scale and common sourcing strategies.

"This collaboration builds upon Honda and GM's strengths as leaders in hydrogen fuel cell technology," Dan Akerson, GM chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "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."

GM's Project Driveway program was launched in 2007, and since that time has accumulated nearly three million miles of real-world driving in a fleet of 119 hydrogen-powered vehicles. GM claims this is more than any other automaker.

GM has expertise in battery chemistry and reportedly holds the most patents in this technology, while Honda has shown its ability to produce hydrogen fuel-cell autos, and is second place in overall patents.

The Japanese auto maker began leasing of the Honda FCX in 2002, and has deployed 85 units in the United States and Japan, including its successor, the FCX Clarity. That was named the 2009 World Green Car, and has been used in the US to collect data on real-world use of fuel cell vehicles.

"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," Takanobu Ito, president & CEO of Honda Motor Co. Ltd. said in a statement.. "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 and Honda are ranked number one and number two, respectively, in total fuel cell patents filed between 2002 and 2012 - with more than 1,200 between them - according to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index.

The two companies are not the only automakers looking to develop fuel cells for automobiles. Ford, Daimler and Renault-Nissan announced a similar plan to develop hydrogen-powered vehicles earlier this year. Toyota has announced it is aggressively pursuing hydrogen.

The biggest bump in the road for this clean technology is that it remains prohibitively expensive for the mass market, and collaborations such as the one between GM and Honda look to tackle this issue.

Fuel cells could be a significant game changer in green car technology as these emit nothing but water vapor from the tailpipe and can operate on renewable hydrogen gas made from non-polluting sources including wind and biomass. The current technology would allow vehicles to drive up to 400 miles on a single tank and be refueled in just a few minutes, offering a significant advantage over slow-charging electric vehicles.

This technology is also not entirely new, as GM has been working on it since the 1960s.