Honda shows next-generation hydrogen fuel cell drivetrain

Honda shows next-generation hydrogen fuel cell drivetrain

Honda has unveiled its next-generation hydrogen fuel cell at a trade show in Brussels, Belgium. Still at the prototype stage, the drivetrain is being developed for a wide variety of applications including hydrogen-electric cars, commercial vehicles, and construction machinery.

The list of carmakers pouring time and money into hydrogen technology is relatively short. BMW is working jointly with Toyota, it notably showcased a hydrogen-powered experimental X5 earlier in 2023, General Motors is developing the technology with Honda, and Hyundai is a major proponent of hydrogen-powered vehicles as well. Hydrogen needs to clear numerous hurdles before it can merge into the mainstream, including the near-complete lack of a refueling infrastructure, but Honda executives expect that these issues will soon be overcome.

“We believe demand for the technology will soon reach the critical mass required for full commercial deployment,” Ingo Nyhues, the deputy general manager of business planning and development for Honda’s European division, affirmed in a statement.

Honda stopped short of providing technical details about its next-generation hydrogen drivetrain. It merely described the system as a highly versatile unit that offers “compact dimensions, a powerful output, outstanding durability, and the ability to provide quick start-up times even in low-temperature environments.” It sounds like development work is on-going, but the company has already identified four primary use cases.

First, its system will end up in a hydrogen-powered CR-V that will be sold in North America and in Japan starting in 2024. It’s also being designed to power heavy-duty commercial vehicles, and engineers will begin testing a prototype developed jointly with Isuzu by March 2024. If everything goes according to plan, the prototype should morph into a production model that will go on sale in select markets by 2027.

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The third use case identified by Honda’s research and development team is stationary power generation; it could serve as a backup power source for a data center, for example. Finally, the firm will work with other companies to design hydrogen-powered construction equipment.

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