By KEN SAKAKIBARA/ Staff Writer Asahi Shimbun--Honda Motor Co. and General Motors Co., their sights set on mass-production of the "ultimate eco-car" in the 2020s, will set up a factory to jointly manufacture fuel cells.
The move is expected to be a game-changer as it brings the development of next-generation fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs) to a new phase.
The Japanese government plans to introduce measures to reduce the market price of FCVs to levels that can compete with gas-electric hybrid vehicles around 2025.
“By cutting costs with General Motors, we hope to increase our FCV production capacity to help achieve the government’s goal,” said a senior Honda official.
Honda and GM have been jointly developing fuel-cell systems and hydrogen tanks for FCVs since 2013.
The auto giants plan to begin mass-production of fuel cells at the new plant in 2025 at the latest, sources said. The companies expect that the plant will reduce production costs of fuel cells. They plan to develop commercial FCV models on their own.
Honda hopes to generate profits from FCVs by mass-marketing commercial models as soon as 2025.
FCVs are powered by electricity that is generated through a chemical reaction between hydrogen fuel and oxygen in the air. As the vehicles emit only water while running, they are called the ultimate eco-cars.
Honda and GM joined forces to develop FCV technologies because it requires a huge investment that even the world’s top automakers cannot shoulder alone.
The production of fuel cells can be costly because they use expensive catalytic agents, prompting automakers to scramble to forge alliances to reduce the cost for FCV development and production.
Among their competitors, Toyota Motor Corp. has formed an alliance with Germany’s BMW to jointly develop key components for FCVs, while Nissan Motor Co. is collaborating with Ford Motor Co. and Daimler AG on the development of fuel cells.