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BMW, GM to collaborate on fuel cells

GM opens its fuel cell technology lab doors to BMW, while BMW opens its checkbook.


This decade will bring a lot of changes to the fuel cell market, the latest being a partnership between General Motors and BMW.

The two automotive manufacturers will sign a cooperation agreement that gives BMW access to GM's existing fuel cell technology in exchange for research funding supplied by the German auto maker, according to reports in German weekly business magazine WirtschaftsWoche.

Both manufacturers have been developing and testing hydrogen-powered vehicles for more than two decades. After clocking more than 2 million miles during Project Driveway, GM is fleet and consumer testing its Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles in Hawaii. Last year BMW unveiled a 1-series hybrid fuel cell prototype that improves upon the 7-series fuel cell vehicle it tested globally.

GM has disclosed that it spent more than $1.6 billion developing its fuel cell technology so far. But rather than continue down the expensive commercialization path on its own, a partnership seems to be a good way to standardize technology while reducing costs for the entire industry. Several manufacturers, such asHyundai, Honda, and Toyota, have pledged to bring hydrogen-fueled vehicles to the mass market by 2015, which is fast approaching. Toyota has predicted that the cost of hydrogen fuel cell technology will plunge in 2015. Perhaps these automotive collaborations are one way to ensure that happens.

BMW confirmed that it was in discussions with GM, but did not disclose details of its new technology agreement, according to Automotive News. This is the second arrangement that BMW has recently entered that pools resources to speed development of next-generation technology. Earlier this month, the luxury car builder partnered with Toyota on the development of lithium-ion batteries.

The BMW 1-Series fuel cell hybrid vehicle.
The BMW 1-Series fuel cell hybrid vehicle. BMW

(Source: Wirtschaftswoche via Automotive News)