One of the world’s largest motor vehicle manufacturers, General Motors (GM) is looking at the hydrogen market beyond just passenger vehicles. The company has plans in the pipeline for other applications where fuel cells can bring better value.
According to GM bigger applications requiring high uptime and carrying heavy payloads like trucks allow for better hydrogen cost optimization.
GM announced earlier this year that it will supply fuel cells to Navistar – a leading maker of big trucks. Its technology called Hydrotec power cube can be used in trucks, even in railroad locomotives, airport ground equipment, power generators, or even submarines.
The company also made claims that it will be carbon neutral by 2040. It will also phase out gasoline and diesel powered vehicles by 2035.
“GM is looking for clean energy solutions across the gamut of different vehicle segments, and hydrogen makes the most sense starting with big commercial vehicles. We are looking at a sustainable hydrogen fuel cell ecosystem for land, sea and air applications,.” said Charlie Freese, Executive Director of GM’s Fuel Cell Business.
Why Has General Motors Decided To Go For Bigger Applications?
General Motors doesn’t have any hydrogen fuel cell passenger vehicles on the market at the moment. However, the company’s ambitions are set on establishing a sustainable business model. One of the biggest hurdles, according to many companies with plans to enter the hydrogen market, is the lack of infrastructure and costs.
Scaling rapidly with a new hydrogen fuel cell car model is challenging because the fueling infrastructure must be established beforehand. Hydrogen pumps are still not widespread, with less than 100 available in California. It’s one of the few locations where fuel-cell vehicles are currently available. Bigger applications make more sense to GM as the demand for the hydrogen fuel becomes higher. That can help bring the cost down quicker.
Mr Freese also added: “…by focusing on bigger applications requiring high uptime, carrying heavy payloads, and quick refuelling, like Class-8 trucks, we can continue to drive the volumes higher while bringing the cost of the hydrogen down, which makes it more affordable in even the smaller applications. We’re also advocating for hydrogen generated at point of use, helping to establish the infrastructure along with the propulsion solution.”
GM has picked a fuel cell strategy starting with heavy applications which could eventually make the fuel source cheaper for all others. Hydrogen fuel cells’ wide variety of use is a clear advantage for the technology to achieve scalability faster.