Honda, GM To Jointly Build Hydrogen-Powered Cars

Honda is set to launch the first hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric CR-V in 2024 and it is getting a little help. The automaker has revealed that the Ohio-built SUV will use technology developed in partnership with General Motors.

Fuel cells combine hydrogen stored in tanks with atmospheric oxygen through a catalyst to create water, the process generating electricity and H2O vapor. The power systems are lighter than battery packs and can be refueled as quickly as a gasoline-powered vehicle.

Both automakers have been experimenting with the technology separately, with Honda briefly selling a fuel cell-powered Clarity car that was hamstrung by high costs and a lack of public fueling infrastructure outside of California, where it was sold.

According to Honda, the next-generation system will cut production costs to one-third of what they are now and by half again in the coming years. Honda is exploring using the technology in cars, commercial vehicles, stationary power systems and even in space. The ramp-up to commercialization will be slow, however.

Honda only expects to build 2,000 of the CR-Vs in 2025 and up to 60,000 fuel cell vehicles annually in 2030, but sees the output growing to hundreds of thousands by the middle of the next decade.

Several other automakers are keen on both hydrogen combustion and fuel cell technology as an alternative to battery-power, including Toyota and Hyundai, which both currently offer low-volume models for sale.

Honda will also start selling the battery-powered Prologue SUV in 2024, which will be built in the U.S. the GM Ultium electric car platform that underpins the Cadillac Lyriq today. Pricing and other specifications for the fuel cell CR-V and Prologue have not yet been announced.