Honda Fuel Cell System Enters Mass Production

    Honda Sees Hydrogen As One Of The High-Potential Energy Carriers To Support Renewable Energy And Electrification

    Honda Stationary Fuel Cell (Image Courtesy Of Honda)

    Marking the first-time hydrogen fuel cells have been produced at scale, mass production of the new Honda fuel cell (FC) system has begun at Fuel Cell System Manufacturing LLC (FCSM), a joint venture production facility with General Motors (GM) in Brownstown, Michigan. Honda outlined key strategies it is undergoing to increase the use of hydrogen fuel cell technology as the company looks to expand its hydrogen business and achieve its global goal of zero environmental impact, including carbon neutrality for all products and corporate activities by 2050.

    “Our new fuel cell system is at the core of Honda hydrogen technology and our strategy to expand the range of applications that use hydrogen to facilitate the decarbonization of society,” said Jay Joseph, vice president of sustainability and business development at American Honda Motor Co. Inc. “This is not simply a choice between battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell technology, but selecting the right energy source, in the right place, for the right purpose, to achieve carbon neutrality as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

    Honda Next Generation Fuel Cell System (Image Courtesy Of Honda)

    The new fuel cell system is key to Honda’s hydrogen business strategy. Co-developed by Honda and GM over the last decade, the new Honda fuel cell system advances performance and doubles durability while reducing cost by two-thirds compared to the previous generation system.

    Honda has been conducting research and development of hydrogen technologies and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) for more than 30 years and has deployed fuel-cell technology through extensive real-world testing and customer use cases, including the first government fleet customers and first-ever retail customer leasing program for fuel cell electric vehicles.

    Triple Action To Zero Approach

    Honda is working toward its global goal of zero environmental impact by 2050 through its “Triple Action To Zero” approach, including not only its products, but the entire product lifecycle including corporate activities. The first pillar is carbon neutrality for all Honda products and corporate activities by 2050. The second pillar is resource circulation. Using 100% sustainable materials to create a circular economy will enable Honda to recycle or reuse every bit of the materials from its vehicles, reprocess them back to raw materials, and reuse those materials in the creation of new products. In short, Honda will make new vehicles out of old Honda vehicles. The third pillar is the use of clean, renewable energy, including electrification and hydrogen.

    Honda Hydrogen Business Strategy

    In its initiatives, Honda sees hydrogen as one of the high-potential energy carriers to support this direction of renewable energy and electrification. The “hydrogen circulation cycle,” which starts with renewable energy, consists of three phases — generate, store/transport, and use. To be more specific, with the use of water electrolysis technology, excess electricity derived from renewable energy sources can be used to create “green hydrogen,” that can be stored indefinitely with no energy loss. Using fuel cell technology, this hydrogen can then be converted back into zero-emissions electricity for a variety of purposes, including stationary back up power to account for fluctuations in power generation due to seasonality and weather conditions. Stored hydrogen can also be used to transport energy to where it is needed via land, sea, and pipeline.

    Honda will expand the applications of the new Honda fuel cell system beyond FCEVs to various internal and external applications, thereby serving to stimulate demand for hydrogen and facilitating the carbon neutrality of society through hydrogen.

    Honda has identified four core domains for the initial use of its new fuel cell system: FCEVs, commercial fuel cell vehicles, stationary power stations, and construction machinery. While initial FCSM production will be used in support of Honda internal initiatives and FCEV sales, Honda is exploring external fuel cell business opportunities with a goal to begin external deliveries of the fuel cell system modules in the near future. The company envisions initial sales of 2000 units per year and then expanding sales in stages.


    This year, Honda will launch an all-new CR-V FCEV. Built at the Honda Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio, using domestic and globally sourced parts, it will be the only fuel cell electric passenger vehicle made in America.

    Co-developed by Honda and GM over the last decade, the new Honda fuel cell system advances performance and doubles durability while reducing cost by two-thirds compared to the previous generation system. (Image Courtesy Of Honda)

    Commercial Vehicles And Construction

    In the area of commercial vehicles, the GIGA FUEL CELL, a zero-emissions fuel cell-powered heavy-duty truck currently being co-developed by Isuzu Motors Limited and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. was shown for the first time at the Japan Mobility Show 2023. In addition to conducting joint research on fuel cell heavy-duty trucks, the two companies have begun demonstration testing of a prototype model on public roads in Japan in December 2023, and plan to introduce the production model to market in 2027 by fully leveraging the technology, experience, and knowledge gained through the joint research.

    The GIGA FUEL CELL, a zero-emissions fuel cell-powered heavy-duty truck currently being co-developed by Isuzu Motors Limited and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. was shown for the first time at the Japan Mobility Show 2023. (Image Courtesy Of Honda)

    Honda is preparing a proof-of-concept Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell truck in the United States and is in talks with potential customers. Honda also will take initiative to apply its fuel cell system to construction equipment such as excavators and wheel loaders, contributing to the realization of carbon neutrality for construction machinery.

    In order for more businesses to actively use fuel cell systems, Honda is working to develop partnerships that bolster the overall hydrogen ecosystem and ensure a streamlined offering of hydrogen services. This includes generation of hydrogen, workforce development, and after-sales maintenance and support.

    Stationary Fuel Cell Power Stations

    Honda began demonstration testing of a stationary fuel cell power station on its Torrance, California, campus in March 2023, marking the company’s first step toward future commercialization of zero-emissions backup power generation. The fuel cell power station supplies clean and quiet emergency backup power to Honda’s data center. In December 2023, Honda also announced a similar joint project in Japan where Honda will establish a stationary fuel cell station to power a Mitsubishi data center.

    Backup power systems using hydrogen fuel cells offer a promising future for clean, yet reliable and high-quality power generation, especially when operating on “green hydrogen” made from renewable sources, with water vapor as the only emissions.

    Future stationary fuel cell (FC) units intended for commercialization will use the new Honda FC system. In the coming years, Honda will begin applying stationary FC power station technologies now under development — featuring a next-generation FC system with further cost reduction and improved performance to Honda facilities and data centers globally.

    Establishment Of Hydrogen Ecosystems

    To achieve widespread use of fuel cell systems, it is critical to establish hydrogen ecosystems that include hydrogen supply. Honda has been supporting the expansion of hydrogen station networks in Japan by participating in the Japan Hydrogen Station Network Joint Company (Japan H2 Mobility/JHyM) and in North America by supporting hydrogen station businesses such as FirstElement Fuel and others. Honda will also participate in hydrogen generation projects organized by national and local governments that currently use large volumes of imported hydrogen at ports and other locations. Through these initiatives, Honda will work to build partnerships with companies involved in this new area.

    In Japan, working toward the establishment of a hydrogen ecosystem, together with Marubeni Corporation and Iwatani Corporation, Honda has begun discussing prospects for hydrogen supply and the use of fuel cell commercial vehicles. In Europe, Honda is currently planning for demonstration testing of an energy ecosystem that combines renewable energy and hydrogen.

    Hydrogen Technologies In Outer Space  

    Honda is conducting advanced research and development of hydrogen technologies while envisioning use in outer space, another potential area where hydrogen technologies such as a fuel cell system and high differential pressure water electrolysis technologies can be used. In addition to water and food, people need oxygen, as well as hydrogen for fuel and electricity for various activities supporting life in space.

    To enable sustainable space activities, it is necessary to reduce the need to resupply these resources from Earth as much as possible. One of the solutions to this challenge is to create a “circulative renewable energy system,” combining a high differential pressure water electrolysis system that produces oxygen and hydrogen using solar energy to electrolyze water, and a fuel cell system that generates electricity and water from oxygen and hydrogen.

    To create such a system, Honda conducted joint research and development with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) during the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years (period ended March 31, 2022). Moreover, in 2022, Honda signed a research and development contract with JAXA regarding the “circulative renewable energy system” designed to supply electricity to maintain the functionality of the living space and various systems of lunar rovers.

    Based on this contract, Honda will be commissioned by JAXA to first conduct concept studies, then to develop a “breadboard model,” an early-stage prototype, by the end of the 2024 fiscal year (ending March 31).