General Motors Corp. and partner Suzuki Motor Corp. announced on Oct. 17 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, according to officials of the two companies. "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. GM holds 20 percent of Suzuki. Tsuda said Suzuki aims to accelerate the development of fuel cell driven cars via accessing GM's advanced fuel cell technology. He added that Suzuki has already dispatched fuel cell engineering specialists to GM for study purposes. 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. "General Motors and Suzuki will learn from each other...Suzuki is strong in small cars, in which GM isn't so strong," said Byron McCormick, director of the GM Global Alternative Propulsion Center. On Oct. 16, 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. The technology is considered environmentally friendly, because water is the only byproduct. Although most major automakers have plans to develop fuel cell vehicles 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.