GM and Honda gas go-ahead

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Similar to the gearbox designed jointly by GM and Ford, this time GM and Honda are cooperating on the design of a fuel cell system.

Each company has committed US$42.5 million to the new venture. A new factory will be built in the US state of Michigan and with Trump backing is expected to create 100 new jobs, with production of the joint fuel cells scheduled to start by 2020.

Honda FCX Clarity.
Honda FCX Clarity.

Honda has been one of the pioneers the hydrogen-powered vehicle, first with its FCX Clarity in 2008 and its follow-up the Honda FCV in 2016. Production of the Honda began in June 2008 with leasing in the U.S. commenced in July 2008. It was introduced in Japan in November 2008. It was only available to customers who live in Southern California where several hydrogen fuel stations are available.

The technology has continued to be developed, but the delivery of hydrogen fuel cell stations has lagged behind. It has been very much a chicken and the egg situation.

However, the manufacturers are backing every horse in the race. Toyota has released its Mirai fuel cell vehicle while South Korean car maker, Hyundai, offers its ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle in South Korea and Europe and has a more advanced fuel cell vehicle in the pipeline for release in 2018.

Mercedes-Benz have lost interest in hydrogen cars, instead choosing to focus on electric cars as batteries become more capable according to Dr Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board for Mercedes’ Daimler parent company, who said at the 2017 Detroit motor show in January, “In the last five, six, seven years battery electric vehicles have developed much faster, much further than we expected. The advantages of fuel cell vehicles as far as filling versus charging times are concerned have become much smaller. For that reason, I think it’s smart to focus on battery electric vehicles.”

Dr Zetsche also highlighted the lack of infrastructure for hydrogen cars, while most of the world is already connected to the electricity grid.