Two major car manufacturers have teamed up to establish the auto industry’s first ever manufacturing joint venture to mass produce an advanced hydrogen (H2) fuel cell system.

The partnership between General Motors Co. (GM) and Honda, named Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, LLC (FCSM), will operate within GM’s existing battery pack manufacturing facility site in Michigan.

The cooperation aims to produce fuel cell systems in mass production by 2020 with both companies making equal investments totalling $85m in the joint venture.

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The two parties have been developing their master collaboration agreement, which was first announced in 2013 and established a co-development arrangement for a next-generation fuel cell system and H2 storage technologies. Since then, Honda and GM integrated their development teams to create a more affordable commercial solution for its H2 technology systems.

According to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index, GM and Honda have a combined total of 2,200 patents between them in fuel cell technology. In addition to advancing the performance of its fuel cell system, FCSM is working to reduce the cost of development and manufacturing through economies of scale and common sourcing.

Mark Reuss, GM Executive Vice-President, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, emphasised, “The combination of two leaders in fuel cell innovation is an exciting development in bringing fuel cells closer to the mainstream of propulsion applications.”

“The eventual deployment of this technology in passenger vehicles will create more differentiated and environmentally friendly transportation options for consumers.”

“Precious metals have been reduced dramatically and a fully cross-functional team is developing advanced manufacturing processes simultaneously with advances in the design,” added Charlie Freese, GM Executive Director of Global Fuel Cell Business. “The result is a lower-cost system that is a fraction of the size and mass.”