GM, Suzuki to cooperate on fuel-cell cars

TOKYO - General Motors and partner Suzuki Motor Corp. said on Wednesday they would expand their alliance to cover the development of fuel-cell vehicles.

The collaboration will focus on developing small-car applications for fuel-cell technology.

"The cost of research and developing fuel cells has become so prohibitive that no one car company can go it alone, certainly not a company of our size," Suzuki executive director Hiroshi Tsuda said in a statement. GM holds 20 percent of Suzuki.

The deal with Suzuki, a specialist in 660cc minivehicles, is the latest in a series of moves by the U.S. automaker to strengthen its fuel cell development.

On Tuesday, GM said it would boost its stake in Canadian fuel cell developer Hydrogenics Corp. to 24 percent, and acquire the right to buy another five percent.

Fuel cells use an electrochemical process to produce electricity by mixing hydrogen and oxygen.

Water is the only byproduct.

Although many major automakers have said they plan to develop a fuel cell vehicle for the market by 2003 or 2004, the new technology is not expected to become a viable alternative for mass-production until at least after 2010.

Suzuki shares were up 0.6 percent at 1225 yen at 0500 GMT.

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