Back in September, General Motors found itself in the middle of an industry scandal. At the time, America’s largest automaker had just inked a multi-billion dollar deal with Nikola Motors, which saw GM responsible for providing the EV automaker with Ultium battery and hydrogen fuel-cell technology. In the days following the deal, Nikola Motors leadership bailed, and the company came under a fraud investigation from the SEC. As a result of the drama, General Motors has entirely reworked their end of the deal, leaving much of Nikola Motors’ future up in the air. Despite the issues with Nikola, GM hasn’t given up on supplying tech to other automakers interested in electric vehicles. In fact, the automaker has just announced a new partnership with Navistar, which will result in GM fuel cell technology reaching the International RH Series lineup
According to the official announcement, General Motors has agreed to supply Navistar with their Hydrotec fuel cell power cubes for use in the International RH Series of semi trucks. General Motors was quick to note that this decision will not impact their current agreement with Nikola Motors, which is still under the second wave of negotiation. That said, GM wasn’t as quick to disclose the monetary value of this new partnership with Navistar, perhaps out of an abundance of caution. Navistar will join the Army and Honda as a customer of the Hydrotec fuel cell technology.
General Motors’ Hydrotec power cubes have been designed with various applications in mind, including use in marine, earth-moving and mining equipment, as well as locomotives and power generators. The design features a proprietary Membrane Electrode Assembly, as well as a manufacturing process that GM says is derived from the filmmaking and paper industries. Each cube is composed of over 300 hydrogen fuel cells, along with the necessary thermal and power management systems. GM says that each cube produces around 80 kilowatts of power, and that they can be bundled into packs of two or three depending on the use case. Unlike other electric vehicle power systems, these cubes have a low precious metal content, which is of course better for the environment.
If electric vehicles are genuinely going to take over the world, we need commercial vehicle solutuions. Hydrogen fuel cells appear to make sense for this job, and General Motors appears more than happy to supply the tech. Here is to hoping that a partnership with Navistar is a bit more stable than what we got from Nikola.