DETROIT — How does an automaker cover the cost of developing next-generation hydrogen fuel cell technology without piling hundreds or thousands of dollars onto the cost of today's cars and trucks?
For General Motors, the answer is to pursue nonautomotive partnerships and commercial revenue opportunities ahead of offering the long-promised technology to consumers.
The latest example: an exclusive deal with Liebherr-Aerospace of France to develop a hydrogen fuel cell-powered auxiliary power unit for aircraft applications. An auxiliary power unit typically powers an aircraft's lighting, air conditioning, backup systems and other auxiliary functions.
The deal marks what's expected to be the automaker's first major foray into aerospace since it sold its Hughes Aircraft operation two decades ago. It calls for the companies to mutually explore opportunities to leverage Liebherr's strong position as a supplier of on-board aircraft systems with GM's fuel cell technology.