Honda have officially announced their partnership with GM to develop Hydrogen powertrains. They want it to be clear that they wont be making cars together though, I hope that’s clear.

Many of the World’s major manufacturers are developing both battery and fuel cell technology in parallel, because both will have a role in future transportation – Ford seem to a be an exception at the moment, having recently dropped development in favour of battery electric.

Fuel cell vehicles for the masses are still a little way off – you can lease a Honda FCX-Clarity, but it’s not quite a car for the masses with around 200 available worldwide. And despite having been in production for 10 years, the cost hasn’t dropped enough to make it viable for the average consumer.

And as with battery cars needing a charge network, fuel cell cars need a fuelling network, and with so few cars available and at such high prices, there isn’t a huge incentive to invest in the infrastructure.

Personally I think the answer is to build battery EVs with space for a lift-in fuel cell – in densely populated areas the charge infrastructure will exist by the time fuel cells are a practical reality, so the lift-in fuel cell would be an option just for longer journeys. Fuel stations could be limited to the highways and out-of town fuel stations, i.e. the basic infrastructure we have in our current fuel stations. Maybe a trailer fuel cell?

Some notable Hydrogen fuel cell cars…

 

 

The press release from Honda…

Honda and GM: Going it Alone, Together

Based on our shared belief in the unique potential of fuel cell electric vehicles to meet the future needs of our customers and society, Honda and GM have initiated a long-term technology partnership with a specific purpose: co-development of a next generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies targeting the 2020 timeframe.

Let’s be clear: both Honda and GM will continue to develop our own unique products for our customers.  But we are joining efforts to leverage our technological expertise with the goal of accelerating the development of highly advanced fuel cell technology in order to introduce even more affordable fuel cell electric vehicles.

Honda has a long history of environmental leadership that has played a key role in helping the auto industry reduce pollution, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. This includes the area of fuel cell technology. Ten years ago, the Honda FCX became America’s first fuel cell electric vehicle available to individual customers. The stylish Honda FCX Clarity fuel cell electric sedan debuted in 2008 and was named World Green Car in 2009.

Despite this history of fuel cell technology leadership, Honda has never shied away from collaborating with another company when it has the potential to create new value for our customers and strengthen the Honda brand. In fact, more than ten years ago, Honda and GM had a successful partnership in an exchange of technologies and components. Since that time, we have maintained a strong relationship that served as the foundation for this new joint project.

Today, GM has vast experience with fuel cell propulsion systems and a deep understanding of fundamental technology, including class-leading knowledge of chemical reaction and advanced materials.  At Honda, we’re confident in our expertise in the structural design and advanced production process technologies of the fuel cell.

GM and Honda have more patents in the area of fuel cell technology than any other automakers. And we have found much of our combined expertise to be complementary. GM and Honda will openly share this intellectual property with one another, which we believe can achieve the world’s strongest partnership in the area of fuel cell technology.

In fact, we are developing a successor to FCX Clarity that we plan to launch in 2015, with the concept model debuting later this year. And there is the possibility that some technology from GM may be applied to this new fuel cell model.

Fuel cell electric vehicles have the unique potential to meet the future transportation needs of our customers and society. But to realize the widespread use of future fuel cell vehicles is a big challenge that requires a significant advance in cost reduction and in the refueling infrastructure that will support them. In each area, we believe that two companies can do more together than the simple sum of our individual efforts.

The Honda Environmental Vision expresses our passionate desire to "Realize the freedom and joy of mobility and a sustainable society where people can enjoy life." We believe this new strategic partnership between Honda and GM, two long-term leaders in fuel cell technology, has the great potential to help us do just that.

Tetsuo Iwamura

President, Honda North America, Inc.

Official press release: Honda and GM: Going it Alone, Together – Honda.com

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