General Motors and Honda this week announced a joint venture to produce hydrogen fuel cell systems at a GM plant near Detroit.
The venture — named Fuel Cell System Manufacturing LLC — is expected to begin mass production of fuel cells at the Brownstown, Mich., battery plant in about three years' time.
The initiative is funded with $85 million in investment, split evenly between the two automakers, and is expected to create about 100 jobs.
“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's Mark Reuss said in a joint statement from the companies.
Hydrogen fuel cells combine hydrogen fuel with oxygen in the atmosphere to power vehicles and leave only water vapor as exhaust.
Plug-in electric vehicles comprise most of the nascent zero-emissions vehicle market in the U.S., in part due to a lack of hydrogen fueling stations, but fuel cells can be refilled as quickly as a conventional gasoline engine.
Hydrogen fuel could also be produced with renewable energy to keep emissions down.
GM and Honda said that the agreement is the auto industry's first for mass production of fuel cells that will be used in future products from each company.
Fuel Cell System Manufacturing will be operated by a board of directors comprised of three executives from each company, including a rotating chairman. A president will also be appointed and rotate between each company.
The automakers first announced a collaboration on fuel cell technology in 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-gen fuel cell system,” said Honda's North American president Toshiaki Mikoshiba.