Honda FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle

To paraphrase the old political adage, it's the cost, stupid. Dollar signs are what's prompting Honda and General Motors to partner up to accelerate development of a hydrogen fuel cell system. With about half the cost of a fuel-cell system tied up in its fuel-cell stack, GM and Honda are looking to help each other drive costs down, according to a presentation by GM fuel cell research and development director Mark Mathias said in a presentation at the SAE 2014 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium.

According to Green Car Congress, Honda and GM are looking to reap the fruits of their collective labor by 2020. As with other automakers, the high cost of producing fuel-cell vehicles is the fly in the ointment of a powertrain technology that combines the same range as gas-powered vehicles but with zero emissions. In the meantime, Honda, which makes the very limited production FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle, is slated to start selling its own mass-market fuel-cell vehicle in 2015.

The two automakers made their partnership announcement last summer and said they contribute to expanding hydrogen fuel infrastructure in California during the next few years. Earlier, Ford, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler and Nissan also said they would work together to speed up fuel-cell technology development.