GM and Honda plunge $85M into hydrogen fuel cell push

The joint venture targets mass production of fuel cell systems in 2020.

Jon Wong Former editor for CNET Cars
Jon Wong was a reviews editor for CNET Cars. He test drove and wrote about new cars and oversaw coverage of automotive accessories and garage gear. In his spare time, he enjoys track days, caring for his fleet of old Japanese cars and searching for the next one to add to his garage.
Jon Wong
2 min read
Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

General Motors and Honda today announce a joint venture to build next-generation fuel cell systems, adding fuel to the idea of hydrogen as a form of alternative propulsion.

The collaboration, called Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, will set up shop in GM's Brownstown, Michigan plant where the battery pack for the Chevrolet Volt is also being produced. The companies are investing a total of $85 million in hopes of beginning production in 2020. The venture is creating roughly 100 jobs at the site.

Production is the next step in the partnership, originally announced in 2013, when the two companies agreed to codevelop a next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage tanks.

Hit the hydrogen-powered road in Honda's 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell

See all photos

"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 a compact and low-cost next-generation fuel cell system," said Toshiaki Mikoshiba, president of Honda North America. "This foundation of outstanding teamwork will now take us to the stage of joint mass production of a fuel cell system that will help each company create new value for our customers in fuel cell vehicles of the future."

As GM has worked with the military in developing fuel cell machinery for land, sea and air use, Honda's efforts have been more visible to civilians with the launch of the all-new Clarity Fuel Cell this past December. The latest Clarity features an EPA-rated range of 366 miles.

Enlarge Image

A teaser for a Chevrolet Colorado-based fuel cell concept.

General Motors

Honda's rival Toyota has gotten into the nascent fuel cell game with the Mirai, while Hyundai continues to offer the Tucson Fuel Cell.

Besides development and production hurdles, the main sticking point for fuel cells is the lack of hydrogen fueling stations. Both GM and Honda say they will continue to work with the US government in bolstering the infrastructure required for the wide acceptance of fuel cell cars. The majority of the country's hydrogen filling stations are currently concentrated in California.