Well, Honda really is keeping us on our toes when it comes to its future fuel intentions, that’s for sure. Only last month were we discussing whether the Japanese firm’s unveiling of the NeuV EV concept at the CES show in Las Vegas marked a shift from its Clarity-led hydrogen fuel cell-bombardment over to the arguably now more ‘mainstream’ world of battery-led electric cars, but this more recent news has given us second thoughts.
Because this week, Honda has announced it’s teaming up with General Motors (GM) to set up a new plant in Michigan where the two car giants will combine their technology, patents and knowledge to create a mass production hydrogen fuel cell production line within the next three years.
The team-up makes sense in a number of ways for pursuing fuel cell vehicle (FCV) development, with GM creating the world’s very first vehicle to be powered this way back in the Sixties, and Honda offering an FCV to the American market in one form or another for the best part of a decade now. The two names have actually been working behind-the-scenes through a master collaboration plan since 2013.
“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, chief operating officer of the North American Region for Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and president & CEO of American Honda Co., Inc. and Honda North America, Inc. “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.”
When performed correctly, fuel cell technology has the potential to address many of the major challenges facing automobiles today: petroleum dependency, emissions, efficiency, range and refuelling times. Fuel cell vehicles can operate on hydrogen made from renewable sources such as wind and biomass, with water vapour being the only emission. Problem is, up until this point, the infrastructure has been nowhere the size it now is for battery-powered EVs, with development costs also proving sky-high.