Honda and GM Partner on $85 Million Fuel-Cell Factory

Business, Honda Clarity  /   /  By Jim Motavalli

Honda and General Motors announced their partnership to make fuel-cell systems in 2013, but at the end of January they announced that they’re taking it to the next stage.

Honda Clarity

The Honda Clarity, on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show, is likely to benefit from the jointly developed fuel-cell stacks. (Jim Motavalli photo)

Under the joint venture Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, the two companies will each invest $42.5 million, hire 100 workers, and in 2020 begin producing the cells they developed at a GM factory in Michigan (where the company builds battery packs for the Volt and its hybrid cars).

Honda and GM

GM Executive VP Mark Reuss (left), Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley (center) and Honda North American Region CEO Toshiaki Mikoshiba celebrate their fuel-cell manufacturing plans in January. (John F. Martin Photo)

Honda has been selling its Clarity fuel-cell car in California since December, but GM—which has invested approximately $2.5 billion in the technology—currently has only a hydrogen-powered ZH2 Colorado truck being tested by the Army’s tank R&D center. The manufacturing plans could signal that GM plans to field a commercial fuel-cell car, but the company declines to comment.

Honda’s North American Region CEO, Toshiaki Mikoshiba, said in a statement, “Over the past three years, engineers from Honda and GM have been working as one team with each company providing know-how from its unique expertise to create an compact and low-cost next-generation fuel-cell system.”

ZH2 Colorado

GM’s ZH2 Colorado on display at a military trade show in Washington. (Jim Motavalli photo)

GM’s Charles Freese, executive director of global fuel-cell business, said the companies have achieved “a lower-cost system that is a fraction of the size and mass.”

The new system could appear in the next iteration of the Clarity, which is being offered at $369 a month (with a down payment of $2,868). The deal is sweetened with a 20,000-mile-per-year mileage allowance, and up to $15,000 in free hydrogen. The Clarity has 366-mile range and a 68 MPGe fuel economy rating.

 

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