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Honda and GM Team Up to Make Hand Sanitizer

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Honda Hand Sanitizer Bottles
Photo: Honda

Honda has announced it is producing nearly 12,000 gallons of hand sanitizer through its Fuel Cell System Manufacturing partnership with General Motors.

The two global automakers say they are making hand sanitizer as part of an “industry-wide effort to help alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The sanitizer will be used at facilities owned by both companies in the Detroit, Michigan area, and Honda is donating 3,750 bottles to health care facilities across both Michigan and Ohio.

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FCSM is a joint venture that Honda and GM established in 2017, at the time representing an $85 million investment. Its purpose is to mass-produce advanced hydrogen fuel cell systems to use in both GM and Honda vehicles, using GM’s existing battery pack manufacturing facility site in Brownstown, just a few miles south of Detroit.

Mass production was expected to begin in 2020, but the first product coming out of the facility en masse turned out to be hand sanitizer. Honda says engineers were able to repurpose an apparatus originally designed to manufacture electrodes in fuel cells to make the sanitizer.

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The Japanese automaker is donating nearly 75 percent of its allocation of the sanitizer. About 1,500 gallons will be used at its manufacturing plants, while the rest is being distributed in 9-ounce bottles to health care facilities like the DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan and Marysville’s Memorial Health. FCSM worked with other companies to take care of the bottling, while Packaging Corporation of America donated the packaging.

“It is inspiring to see how the automotive industry continues to find new and innovative ways to help society during this crisis,” said Cathy McEvilly, senior vice president and general counsel of Honda North America. “The commitment shown by Honda associates and their counterparts at GM is a source of pride to us and we are happy to provide something to help the brave health care professionals fighting this pandemic every day.”