GM, Honda Latest Automakers To Collaborate On Fuel Cell Tech

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GM's Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Milestones

GM's Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Milestones

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The puzzle is almost complete: General Motors and Honda have signed an agreement to work on the future of fuel cell technology.

They're the latest large automakers to announce a fuel cell technology share agreement, as car companies continue to explore the future of alternative propulsion.

GM and Honda are calling it a "long-term, definitive master agreement to co-develop next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies, aiming for the 2020 time frame."

That's longer term than the 2015-2017 discussed by several other collaborating manufacturers, including Toyota--whose first production fuel cell vehicle is expected to debut at this November's Tokyo Motor Show, for sales some time in 2014.

Toyota will develop future fuel cell vehicles with German automaker BMW--once in negotiations of its own with GM for the same reasons.

Meanwhile, Daimler, Ford and the Renault-Nissan Alliance have their own fuel cell technology development plans, with eventual production cars expected in "2017 or later".

That major automakers are rushing to find fuel cell partners like teens looking for a prom date isn't much of a surprise.

Developing fuel cells is as hugely expensive and risky as it ever was, yet few automakers can afford to be left out of the loop should the technology suddenly take off.

Having fuel cell development on the back-burner is simply insurance for changing future trends, as much so as electric cars are for reluctant companies like Fiat and Chrysler. But unlike electric cars, which are relatively uncomplicated, the huge cost of fuel cell development makes partnerships the only real financially-viable way of exploring the technology.

For GM and Honda, it's a chance to share expertise, as much as costs--between the two companies are over 1,200 fuel cell patents, filed from 2002 to 2012.

GM alone has accumulated more than 3 million miles of fuel cell testing, while Honda has for several years run a trial fleet of FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicles in real-world testing. A successor to the Clarity is expected in 2015, while GM is yet to announce a production car using the tech.

Which automaker will be next to explore fuel cells? Place your bets...


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Comments (16)
  1. The fossil fuel industry is doing it all it can to keep itself from being buried by solar energy and electric cars. Of course, EV's are superior and will win out EVENTUALLY, but tell that to the internal-combusion complex. There is too much old wealth at stake to let the EV's win out.

  2. The only people asking for fuel cell cars are gas companies, because they know they can sell you the hydrogen.

  3. Is large scale hydrogen production from water not possible and practical?

  4. It requires enormous amounts of power to do on an industrial

  5. scale. (sorry hit the post button a bit early by accident!)

  6. It's cheaper to do from hydrocarbons, specifically, petroleum based hydrocarbons.

  7. Thanks for the replies, because I'm not trying to be cantankerous, just trying to understand. Many companies and research depts. are working on extracting hydrogen from water at industrial scale. Could the electricity not come from solar, wind, hydro, nuke, etc?

    Also, I'm not against EVs, including Tesla, but even superchargers and battery swaps will not acct for all range anxiety issues any time soon.

  8. If you're already getting electricity from solar/wind, etc, why not use it to power an EV, instead of taking the extra steps of using it to create hydrogen, and then shipping that off to fueling stations, putting it into vehicles and using it to then create electricity to power an EV?

    The obvious reason is that it's a product that gas companies can control and charge you for, instead of a fuel that's already ubiquitous and out of their control (electricity).

    The only advantages to hydrogen are quicker fueling and greater range, both of which will be gone by the time in comes to market. Battery and charging technologies will have made them obsolete.

  9. oh no...another 'fool'

  10. "yet few automakers can afford to be left out of the loop should the technology suddenly take off." I don't see how it can take off given that there are hardly any hydrogen fueling stations. It would take decades to get those in place. Even if they somehow find a way to burn natural gas directly, there aren't a lot of those either.

  11. It is very encouraging news, because there is finally available between the government and entrepreneurs latter who were more clubs who put on the wheels, as elucidated oil business out, hopefully you get the much desired golden era of clean energy.

  12. bets on for when the oil companies will buy the electricity companies?

  13. Chrysler curiously had presented a fuel cell prototype that could be recharged with gasoline some years ago.

    But I bet battery EVs are the future.

  14. Prob EVs are going to win out...
    Which one though, would be better for the enviornment?
    And will you ever be able to make your own hydrogen at home?
    Will it ever compete with Solar/electric?
    My prediction, BEV for the win, why? 'batterys' or energy storage tech, will fall faster in price and increase in range to be the logical answer.

  15. I would like to see a EREV with a fuel cell instead of gas engine. Fuel cell to recharge battery/range extender. Then you have a car with a small fuel cell and awesome range.

  16. @Mike: Out of curiosity, how and where would you expect to be able to refuel with hydrogen? Do you live in Southern California?

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