As automakers come under pressure to develop alternative powertrains and green vehicles, GM could look to the aerospace industry to absorb some of the massive development costs. Specifically, the aerospace industry could unlock economies of scale before the automaker actually fits its cars with a fuel cell powertrain.
According to Automotive News, GM will enter an exclusive partnership with France’s Liebherr-Aerospace to explore “opportunities to leverage Liebherr’s strong position as a supplier of on-board aircraft systems with GM’s fuel cell technology.”
Head of GM’s global fuel cell business, Charlie Freese, said the move is part of GM’s grander strategy to “evolve the technology rapidly to get it reduced in costs so it can be more suitable for a range of applications in the automotive space.”
Gas turbine engines currently power the aircraft auxiliary power units, but one day, GM could supply fuel cells instead. Like a battery-electric powertrain, fuel cells also do not emit any emissions. However, they require hydrogen fuel to create energy via a chemical process. But, hydrogen poses intense infrastructure and storing questions.
Aside from the aerospace industry, GM is looking at other avenues to also develop its fuel cell business and improve economies of scale. GM has partnered with Honda for future battery and fuel cell production, and the U.S. automaker has shown off two military vehicles that take advantage of the fuel cell powertrain: SURUS and the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2.