Hydrogen fuel cells are advancing faster than GM can produce clean vehicles

February 19, 2016 3 By Tami Hood

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GM makes note of the rapid advancement of fuel cell technology

General Motors is lagging behind other automakers when it comes to launching fuel cell vehicles and this may be due to the speed at which fuel cell technology is advancing. Charlie Freese, executive director of global fuel cell activities for General Motors, notes that the company can produce a fuel cell vehicle, but it would do so with “antiquated” propulsion units. This would harm the automaker’s ability to compete with others in the growing clean transportation space.

Honda is helping GM develop advanced fuel cells for use in new vehicles

Honda, one of the world’s largest automakers, is preparing to launch its second generation fuel cell vehicle, called the Clarity FCV, with other companies having already released their own vehicles equipped with hydrogen fuel cells. Honda has been working with General Motors to improve fuel cell technology and these efforts seem to have been progressing steadily. General Motors is currently considered the leading force in the research and development of fuel cell technology and the company has seen this technology advanced more quickly than it had anticipated in the past.


Clean Energy Quotes To Remember - “For example, a breakthrough in better batteries could supplant hydrogen. Better solar cells could replace or win out in this race to the fuel of the future. Those, I see, as the three big competitors: hydrogen, solar cells and then better batteries.”

- Bob Inglis, Politician


Even 2016 prototype vehicle is considered out of date

Hydrogen Fuel Cells GrowthGeneral Motors notes that it has had a propulsion system suitable for fuel cell vehicles since 2010. The reason this system was never used is because the fuel cell technology of today is already considered outdated. According to Freese, the 2016 prototype fuel cell vehicle that General Motors has been testing is now antiquated. The company must find a balance between advancing fuel cell technology and releasing a vehicle that uses this technology in order to find success.

Lack of infrastructure makes it difficult for fuel cell vehicles to find success

While the automaker sees great promise in clean transportation, the company is somewhat concerned about how fuel cell vehicles will fare in prominent markets without a comprehensive hydrogen fuel infrastructure in place. California is considered home of the most well established hydrogen infrastructures in the United States, but this infrastructure is considerably smaller than what would be considered viable to secure the success of fuel cell vehicles.