The deal should make the companies' fuel cells less expensive by improving the economies of scale for them.

Honda has been on the forefront among automakers developing hydrogen fuel cell technology, and the company and General Motors have now announced a partnership for taking those innovations even further. The firms will invest a total of $85 million to create a joint venture that will manufacture fuel cells in Michigan, and the parts will go into future vehicles from both businesses.

Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, LLC (FCSM) doesn’t have the most creative name, but it has big goals. The joint venture business will set up shop at GM’s battery plant in Brownstown, Michigan, and it’ll begin building fuel cell stacks in 2020. The automakers estimate the new company will employ around 100 people.

“The combination of two leaders in fuel cell innovation is an exciting development in bringing fuel cells closer to the mainstream of propulsion applications,” GM Product Development boss Mark Reuss said when announcing the joint venture. “The eventual deployment of this technology in passenger vehicles will create more differentiated and environmentally friendly transportation options for consumers.”

GM and Honda hope this joint venture can bring down the cost of hydrogen fuel cell powerplants by creating greater economies of scale. Each automaker will appoint three executives to be on the board of FCSM, and they’ll appoint an alternating chairperson and president from each firm.

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The two automakers have been partnering on fuel cell development since an agreement in 2013. Honda has been quicker to bring the green technology to market, though. The Japanese automaker launched the hydrogen-fueled FCX in 2002 and followed it with the FCX Clarity in 2008. The new Clarity just went on sale in the United States.

GM has been experimenting on hydrogen fuel cells with the U.S. military. For example, the General created an FCEV deep-sea drone for evaluation by the Navy, it also developed a hydrogen-fueled Chevrolet Colorado pickup (above) for testing by the Army. GM had indicated that a fuel cell vehicle for consumers should arrive around 2020.

Source: General Motors, Honda

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