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Major Japanese OEMs team up to develop hydrogen engines

Honda Motor Company, Kawasaki Motors Corporation, Suzuki Motor Corporation and Yamaha Motor Company have announced they will work together to develop hydrogen-powered engines for future two-wheelers and other transportation vehicles.

The companies have received approval from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to form a technological research association called HySE (Hydrogen Small mobility & Engine technology) for developing hydrogen-powered engines for small mobility.

Japanese motorcycle OEMs partner to develop hydrogen powered engine
Executives of Kawasaki., Suzuki, Honda and Yamaha pose for photos at a press conference in Tokyo on May 17, 2023. Photo courtesy of Kyodo News

In addition to the full members mentioned above, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corporation will support the association as special members. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, being one of the main organizers of the CO2-free Hydrogen Energy Supply-chain Technology Research Association (HySTRA), will drive forward HySE’s activities, based on the knowledge gained from its activities for HySTRA. Toyota will assume the role of leveraging HySE’s research results to the maximum benefit for the development of hydrogen-powered engines, utilizing its know-how on experiments, analyses and the designing of large hydrogen-fueled power units for four-wheel vehicles.

The move comes amid tightening regulations on gasoline-powered vehicles and a growing shift to electric vehicles worldwide.

“Hydrogen is a type of next-generation clean energy that has a huge potential,” says Yoshihiro Hidaka, president of Yamaha at a press conference.

The association will collaborate in the basic research for hydrogen-powered engines, while the decision to develop products for commercial use will be up to each company. Although there has been a rapid shift toward electric models, Hidaka said it is important to have a broad range of green vehicles to better reduce carbon emissions. The organization is also considering installing such engines on minivehicles, small boats and drones.

Main research and development areas and the role of each company are listed below:

Research on hydrogen-powered engines

  • Research on the model-based development of hydrogen-powered engines – Honda
  • Element study on functionality, performance, and reliability of the hydrogen-powered engines – Suzuki
  • Hands-on research using real hydrogen-powered engines on their functionality, performance, and reliability – Yamaha Motor and Kawasaki Motors

Study on hydrogen refueling system

  • Studying the requirements for a hydrogen refueling system and hydrogen tanks for small mobility – Yamaha

Study on fuel supply system

  • Studying the auxiliary equipment required for a fuel supply system and tanks, and the equipment installed between the fuel tank and the injector – Kawasaki Motors

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