General Motors and Honda announced their plans to invest $85 million into producing a compact, next-generation fuel cell stack at GM’s battery pack factory in Brownstown Center Township, Michigan.
The GM plant is already producing battery packs for electric and hybrid vehicles. With the new 50-50 project and the creation of 100 new jobs, their plan is to start producing the fuel cell systems in around three years.
“Today’s announcement finally marks the arrival of fuel cells,” said Dan Nicholson, GM’s vice president for global propulsion systems. “It’s not a science project, anymore.”
Their announcement on Monday doesn’t come as a surprise as engineers from Honda and General Motors were already outlining a successor for the Clarity’s hydrogen fuel cell back in March last year. By cooperating in the development and production of the next-generation fuel cell, both automakers have effectively slashed costs by half and increased efficiency.
Though the fuel stack’s output is still under wraps, we can expect to see lowered production costs as the new system is designed to be shipped as a plug-and-play system which includes the stack and all the related cooling, fluid, gas and electrical components. The battery itself, electric motor or hydrogen tank will be developed by the automakers independently.
There will be some growing pains when it comes to mass producing fuel cells whilst meeting quality standards. "Durability, quality control and cost are three areas that need to be controlled going forward," said Takashi Moriya, a senior chief engineer in Honda's fuel cell program.
Maybe we’ll see the new fuel cell stack in the next gen Civic.