Hydrogen push from Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha

The big four are pushing on with hydrogen power, as Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha form research association


FOUR of the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturers have joined forces this week, as Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha form a technological research association called HySE.

The name stands for Hydrogen Small mobility & Engine technology, and the focus of the group will be on accelerating the use of hydrogen power in internal combustion engines. The basic premise is that the big four sensibly believe that there is more than just one way to decarbonise travel and that instead of looking solely at electrification as the solution to carbon emissions, the world can instead look at multiple pathways to try and kick fossil fuel usage. Much like the vast majority of the general public, the Japanese motorcycle industry can see that using an alternative fuel that can be carried, distributed, and used like fossil fuels as a much better alternative than forcing the population to use electric power.

Hydrogen push from Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha

And while the idea of switching from one type of combustible fuel to another sounds fairly straightforward, hydrogen does bring its own, unique challenges. For starters, the way it combusts and the speed of ignition between petrol, diesel and hydrogen are vastly different, meaning current internal combustion engines will need significant updates to make the new fuel work. Add to that the challenges of carrying hydrogen around, especially on much more vulnerable motorcycles and lightweight vehicles, and we could be a few years away from any kind of viable products that are ready for public use. 

It is though a challenge that some of the biggest names in the automotive world are up for though, and they will all have particular roles to play. Honda will be handling any model-based development, with Suzuki testing the performance, and reliability of the engines as they are developed. Yamaha will be focusing on the tricky task of making safe ways to carry and refuel hydrogen engines, and Kawasaki will look at auxiliary equipment required for a fuel supply system and tanks - a sensible step as the firm has already produced tanker ships designed solely to carry hydrogen fuels. Any hands-on testing of hydrogen engines will be carried out by Yamaha and Kawasaki.

Speaking about the new partnership, Kenji Komatsu, Chairman nominee of HySE and Executive Officer of Technical Research & Development Center, Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. said:

“We are extremely pleased to announce the planned formation of the association. There are many challenges in the development of hydrogen-powered engines, but we hope to see the association’s activities advance the fundamental research in order to meet those challenges. We are committed to this endeavor with a sense of mission to preserve the use of internal combustion engines, which epitomize the long-time efforts that our predecessors have invested.”


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