General Motors and Honda have announced that a joint venture between the two companies has begun production of fuel cell powertrains at a plant near Detroit.
Initial production of fuel cell power units for both companies will reportedly be relatively small. Honda is aiming to deliver 2,000 fuel cell power units per year by around 2025, Honda executive Jay Joseph said at an event on 24 January.
Honda will use the fuel cells in a version of its SUV model, the CR-V, which is due to be launched in March this year. Joseph said the fuel cells will also be used in other products such as stationary generators. Honda is also developing a hydrogen-fuelled Class 8 semi-truck with Japanese truck maker Isuzu.
GM previously announced plans to supply fuel cell systems to commercial truck maker Autocar and heavy mining and construction equipment maker Komatsu and to sell fuel cells under the Hydrotec brand.
GM has been working on fuel cells as an alternative to the internal combustion engine for nearly 60 years. GM CEO Mary Barra said in 2021 that the company is developing a medium-duty commercial truck powered by fuel cells. However, on 24 January, Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s Global Hydrotec business, declined to discuss production targets or the timing of GM’s fuel cell trucks.
Automakers such as Hyundai, Toyota, Stellantis, Daimler Trucks, and U.S. startup Nikola are pushing for the development of commercially viable fuel cell technology to replace diesel engines. However, despite government subsidies and incentives, fuel cell technology has yet to make a breakthrough due to the high cost of the system and the lack of infrastructure for hydrogen refueling.