Auto majors General Motors and Honda have announced a long-tem collaboration to develop next-generation fuel-cell system and hydrogen storage technology and the two have set a time frame of 2020.
The collaboration expects to succeed by sharing expertise, economies of scale and common sourcing strategies, a joint release said.
Under the agreement, engineers from both the companies will work towards designing hydrogen and fuel-cell cars with the aim of reviving interest in the technology.
The decision to move together comes on the back of infrastructure bottlenecks that carmakers have been facing in the commercialisation of fuel cell cars for decades.
GM and Honda said they would work together with stakeholders to further advance refuelling infrastructure, which is critical for the long-term viability and consumer acceptance of fuel cell vehicles.
Fuel cell-powered vehicles are completely emission-free as they derive their power from a chemical reaction that produces water vapour, wit the result they do not need the heavy on-board batteries carried by electric vehicles (EVs).
GM and Honda are the current leaders in fuel-cell technology, ranking No 1 and No 2, respectively, in terms of total fuel-cell patents filed between 2002 and 2012, with more than 1,200 between them, according to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index.
''This collaboration builds upon Honda and GM's strengths as leaders in hydrogen fuel cell technology,'' said Dan Akerson, GM chairman and CEO. ''We are convinced this is the best way to develop this important technology, which has the potential to help reduce the dependence on petroleum and establish sustainable mobility.''
''Among all zero CO2 emission technologies, fuel cell electric vehicles have a definitive advantage with range and refuelling time that is as good as conventional gasoline cars,'' said Takanobu Ito, president and CEO of Honda Motor Co. Ltd.
''Honda and GM are eager to accelerate the market penetration of this ultimate clean mobility technology, and I am excited to form this collaboration to fuse our leading fuel cell technologies and create an advanced system that will be both more capable and more affordable,'' he added.
GM launched its hydrogen technology mission in 2007 under the Project Driveway programme and has a fleet of 119 hydrogen-powered vehicles, which have accumulated nearly 3 million miles of real-world driving.
Honda began leasing of the Honda FCX in 2002 and has deployed 85 units in the US and Japan, including its successor, the FCX Clarity, which was named the 2009 World Green Car. Honda has already delivered these vehicles to customers in the US and collected valuable data concerning real-world use of fuel cell electric vehicles.
Honda plans to launch the successor of FCX Clarity in Japan and the US in 2015, and then in Europe. GM will announce its fuel cell production plans at a later date.
Fuel cell vehicles can operate on renewable hydrogen made from sources like wind and biomass. The only emission from fuel cell vehicles is water vapour.
Fuel cell vehicles can have a driving range of up to 400 miles (644 km) and can be refuelled in as little as three minutes.
The propulsion technology can be used on small, medium, and large vehicles.
Simultaneously, Germany's BMW is working with Toyota on producing an affordable fuel-cell car by 2015 and Daimler, Ford and Nissan have started similar projects.
Fuel-cell-powered buses are already in operation around the world using technology pioneered by Mercedes-Benz. They are, however, prohibitively expensive.