Honda and General Motors (GM) will be starting a joint venture to mass-produce an advanced hydrogen fuel-cell system for future products in both companies – a first in the automotive industry, according to Honda. Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, LLC will operate from within GM’s existing battery production site in Brownstown, Michigan, with manufacturing expected to start in 2020 and create 100 new jobs.

Both Honda and General Motors are making equal investments totalling $85 million (RM376 million) in this joint venture, stemming from a master collaboration agreement announced in July 2013. This was done for the co-development of next-generation hydrogen storage and fuel-cell system technologies, while development teams and fuel cell intellectual property were shared for a more viable mass production of said systems.

“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.

“This foundation of outstanding teamwork will now take us to the stage of joint mass production of a fuel cell system in fuel cell vehicles of the future,” said Toshiaki Mikoshiba, chief operating officer of the North American Region for Honda Motor and president and CEO of American Honda and Honda North America.

In terms of company structure, Fuel Cell System Manufacturing will be helmed by a board of directors comprising three executives from each company, including a chairperson on rotation. A president will also be appointed to rotate between each company.

Prior to their collaboration for fuel cells, GM and Honda came together for an arrangement of cross supply for powertrains in 1999, where Honda produced 50,000 V6 engines for GM’s Saturn VUE, while GM supplied diesel engines from the American group’s Isuzu affiliate for Honda’s European market.