General Motors has ruled out producing a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle for public consumption in the near future, instead choosing to focus its efforts on battery-electric vehicles.
CNBC automotive reporter Michael Wayland asked GM this week if a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is included in the automaker’s plan to launch 20 electric vehicles by 2023. In response, GM Chief Sustainability Officer Dane Parker said the automaker will focus on “electric vehicles for passenger vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles for military and commercial uses,” – effectively ruling out a hydrogen-powered GM consumer vehicle for the near future.
.@GM has decided to not produce a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle for consumers as part of its at least 20 new EVs by 2023, GM Chief Sustainability Officer Dane Parker said when discussing the company’s 2020 Sustainability report. https://t.co/kcQoGoUrR2
— Michael Wayland (@MikeWayland) July 16, 2020
As Wayland pointed out in a recent Twitter thread, GM previously said its plan to introduce 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023 would include at least one fuel cell vehicle for its retail customers, describing the product onslaught as a “two-pronged approach” between battery and fuel ell. It later decided against the production fuel cell vehicle, though, with Parker saying the company “saw the importance of prioritizing our resources, particularly in the U.S. market to electric passenger vehicles.”
While hydrogen is seen as a sort of happy medium between gasoline/diesel and pure electric, adoption of the technology has been slow due to the limited refueling infrastructure. A fleet hydrogen vehicle, say a truck or work van, could potentially sidestep this issue as some companies with large fleets also have their own refueling stations on site.
GM is far from the only company to see the potential hydrogen has in fleet vehicles. Hyundai unveiled a hydrogen-powered Class 8 tractor-trailer concept earlier this year, while Cummins has also teased its own concept hydrogen powertrain for semi trucks, just to name a couple.
GM Defense already has hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle concepts in the way of the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 and Silverado ZH2. These emissions-free, four-wheel-drive fuel cell pickups were developed so the U.S. Army could determine the viability of hydrogen-powered vehicles on military missions. GM Defense is also working on an unmanned submarine for the army that is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.
“Fuel cells have the potential to expand the capabilities of Army vehicles significantly through quiet operation, exportable power and solid torque performance, all advances that drove us to investigate this technology further,” GM Defense said in a statement released back in 2016.
GM and Honda first put their heads together to develop next-generation hydrogen fuel cell technology back in 2013 and have been collaborating on the project ever since. Honda already has a consumer fuel cell vehicle in production in the way of the Clarity, which is sold in California only and has a range of about 366 miles.