Sources have told Reuters that General Motors and Honda Motor Company are expected to announce an advance in fuel cell technology on Monday. The companies put out a notice today that they will be conducting a joint press conference on Monday regarding “an important advanced technology announcement.”
Although neither company is detailing exactly what kind of technology advance the news will be about, the two automakers formed an alliance on fuel cell technology back in 2013. Since the original announcement, the companies have publicly acknowledged a continuance on the partnership to develop hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
As recently as a year ago the two companies reaffirmed a goal to have a jointly-developed hydrogen fuel cell powerplant ready for 2020. Monday’s announcement is expected to build on the original 2020 production goal.
Back in 2013 the two companies formed the alliance with the agreement of sharing knowledge to jointly develop a Gen 2 fuel cell system. At the time both companies had produced a Gen 1 system developed independently. GM’s first generation system was found in a unique version of the Chevrolet Equinox, while Honda’s was found in the original FCX Clarity.
Collectively, the two companies formed the alliance to cut costs and boost volume of hydrogen fuel cell powertrains.
GM has yet to confirm which product or vehicle type would get the jointly-developed Gen 2 system, but Honda has confirmed the next-generation Clarity will gain the Gen 2 system in 2020. Honda has been selling the new Clarity since early 2016 in Japan, Europe and California.
Automakers have significant motivation for churning out hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in higher volumes. Under new EPA rules recently finalized by the Obama Administration, fuel cell vehicles will count as 1.75 conventional vehicles in 2020 and 1.5 in 2021 in the automaker’s CAFE calculation.
Known as Corporate Average Fuel Economy, CAFE is the collective average fuel economy of an automaker’s sold fleet. Assuming the Trump Administration maintains the new CAFE rules, automakers will have to achieve a fleet-wide average of 54.5 mpg, up from 35 mpg this year.