The top two automotive leaders in fuel cell technology–General Motors and Honda (News - Alert)—have announced a definitive master agreement to co-develop next-generation propulsion and energy storage systems, aiming for the 2020 time frame. The collaboration expects to succeed by sharing expertise, economies of scale and common sourcing strategies.
According to the Clean Energy (News - Alert) Patent Growth Index, GM and Honda cumulatively filed more than 1,200 fuel cell patents in the decade between 2002 and 2012.
Fuel cell technology offers a multitude of advantages—addressing many of the major challenges in the auto industry today, including fossil fuel dependency, emissions, efficiency, range and refueling times. For starters, fuel cell vehicles can operate on renewable hydrogen made from sources like wind and biomass, and they emit nothing but water vapor. In addition, fuel cell vehicles offer a driving range of up to 400 miles, can be refueled in as little as three minutes; and the propulsion technology can be used on small, medium and large vehicles.
Above, Honda’s new FCX Clarity (News - Alert), a fuel-cell propelled vehicle.
The two companies also 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.
“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 and 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 racked up nearly three million miles of real-world driving with a fleet of 119 hydrogen-powered vehicles—more than any other automaker.
Honda began leasing of the Honda FCX in 2002— the world's first dedicated platform hydrogen vehicle— and has deployed 85 units in the United States 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 U.S. customers and amassed 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.
Edited by Alisen Downey