General Motors and Honda just made a huge move to put hydrogen-powered cars on the map.
The two automakers announced Monday that they are investing $85 million in a joint venture to begin mass producing hydrogen fuel cells in 2020. The manufacturing facility will operate within GM’s manufacturing facility site in Brownstone, Michigan.
The two companies said they are sharing intellectual property to create a “more affordable commercial solution” for fuel cell and hydrogen storage technology.
GM and Honda said the joint venture will allow them to reduce the cost of development and manufacturing through economies of scale, adding that the two will work to advance the infrastructure to support hydrogen-powered cars to encourage consumer acceptance.
“They are not a science project anymore, they are a mainstream alternative energy source,” Dan Nicholson, GM’s vice president of global propulsion systems, said at a press conference Monday.
From a purely technical standpoint, hydrogen-powered cars are better than electric vehicles. Hydrogen-powered cars boast longer ranges and have shorter re-fuel times than their EV counterparts. However, it’s difficult and expensive to produce hydrogen and there is a serious shortage of hydrogen stations.
Honda began leasing its fuel-cell car, the Honda Clarity, at the end 0f 2016. The EPA gave the car an estimated range of 366 miles, the longest range of any zero-emissions vehicle. As of October, GM had achieved 3.1 million miles of hydrogen fuel cell testing.
Honda and GM said the new venture will create 100 jobs. The announcement comes at a time President Donald Trump is pushing to keep auto manufacturing in the US to create jobs.