A bare car chassis exposing General Motors' (GM) Ultium Battery

The Honda, GM, and Isuzu connection in the near-future of EVs, fuel cells

General Motors (GM) and Honda are teaming up to develop two all-new electric vehicles (EVs) for Honda. These EVs will be based on GM’s highly flexible global EV platform powered by the proprietary Ultium batteries. In the collaboration, Honda will exclusively design the exteriors and interior of these new EVs. Also, the platform will be engineered to support Honda’s driving character.

When it comes to production, these Honda EVs will be manufactured at GM plants in North America and will have combined development expertise of both companies. Come 2024, sales are expected to begin carrying that model year in Honda’s US and Canadian markets.

The relationship between these two automakers has been ongoing in their electrification projects. For one, it includes developments on fuel cells and the Cruise Origin—an electric, self-driving and shared vehicle, which was revealed in San Francisco earlier this year. On the part of Honda, it also joined GM’s battery module development efforts in 2018.

“This collaboration will put together the strength of both companies, while combined scale and manufacturing efficiencies will ultimately provide greater value to customers. This expanded partnership will unlock economies of scale to accelerate our electrification roadmap and advance our industry-leading efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We are in discussions with one another regarding the possibility of further extending our partnership,” said Rick Schostek, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co Inc.

“This agreement builds on our proven relationship with Honda and further validates the technical advancements and capabilities of our Ultium batteries and our all-new EV platform,” said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain.

“Importantly, it is another step on our journey to an all-electric future and delivering a profitable EV business through increased scale and capacity utilization. We have a terrific history of working closely with Honda, and this new collaboration builds on our relationship and like-minded objectives,” Parks added.

Now, part of the agreement in jointly developing EVs, Honda will integrate GM’s OnStar safety and security services into the two EVs while also seamlessly integrating them with HondaLink. Additionally, Honda plans to make GM’s hands-free advanced driver-assist technology available.

Joint research on fuel cell-powered trucks

Early this year, Honda R&D Co Ltd, a research and development subsidiary of Honda Motor Co Ltd, signed an agreement with no other than Isuzu Motors Limited to commence joint research on heavy-duty trucks to be powered by fuel cells (FCs). This joint venture has both automaker’s expertise on the table and would eventually change the trucking landscape when it comes to promoting zero-emission. 

Considering the demand when it comes to reducing exhaust gas/carbon emissions from mobility products, this project would add to the efforts in addressing the ongoing global challenge of reducing humanity’s environmental footprint. On the energy security standpoint, meantime, the industry is required to take initiatives to promote the utilization of renewable energy.

Under these circumstances, as a commercial vehicle manufacturer committed to supporting transportation, Isuzu has been striving to promote the use of low-carbon and sustainable energy.

Isuzu, for its part, has been researching and developing various powertrains including clean diesel engine, engines for natural gas vehicles (NGV) and EV powertrains, which accommodate a broad range of customer needs and how vehicles are used. Honda, on the other hand, has been working and promoting a carbon-free society in addition to hybrid and battery electric vehicles. Honda has been researching and developing fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), the ultimate environmental technology, for more than 30 years.

However, there are still some issues that need to be addressed to popularize the use of FC and hydrogen energy, including matters related to cost and infrastructure. It is essential to address these issues not only by individual companies but more expansively through industry-wide initiatives.

Both Isuzu and Honda say they continue to strive to expand their powertrain developments, next-generation engines for heavy-duty trucks and application of FC technologies beyond use for passenger vehicles. The use of FC technology will represent progress toward the realization of a hydrogen society. It was at these common technological research goals that the two companies reached an agreement to conduct joint research on FC-powered heavy-duty trucks.

Taking advantage of the respective strengths each company has amassed over a long period, the two companies say they will strive to establish the foundation for technologies such as FC powertrains and vehicle control. Moreover, through this joint research, not only will the two manufacturers’ customers start to experience clean, low-noise, low-vibration heavy-duty trucks, these manufacturers will also promote extensive discussions in the industry.

This joint effort will promote the use of FC trucks and hydrogen energy that can contribute to the future success of the logistics industry, as well as all other businesses. (Honda Motor Co Ltd, General Motors, Isuzu Motors Limited; photo credits—Honda Motor Co Ltd, General Motors)