Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki jointly announced today that they 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
Hydrogen powered engines and motorcycles have been on the agenda for some time with Kawasaki only recently providing mock ups of a hydrogen multi fuel cell powered motorbike in consideration.
This is not the first time the big Japanese four motorcycle brands have joined forces for common technological evolution. In recent years as the motorcycle world is becoming more accustomed to electrification, it has not only been the development of electric motorcycles but also what kind of batteries can and should be used. The big four initially worked together to develop a universal swappable battery which is now part of a consortium of over twenty collaborating manufacturers.
However with the race to make better and better EV bikes, there has also been much movement into the development of alternative green bio fuels, synthetic fuels and new engine designs to utilise non fossil fuels too.
“To realize a decarbonized society, a multi-pathway strategy to address various issues in the mobility sector is necessary, rather than focusing on a single energy source. Against this backdrop, research and development targeted at commercialization of mobility with engines powered by hydrogen－deemed a next-generation energy source－is gaining momentum”
In a joint press release today it was further explained that the main research and development areas would be in:
Research on hydrogen-powered engines
Study on hydrogen refueling system
Study on fuel supply system
However, the use of hydrogen poses technical challenges, including fast flame speed and a large region of ignition, which often result in unstable combustion, and the limited fuel tank capacity in case of use in small mobility vehicles. In addressing these issues, the members of HySE are committed to conducting fundamental research, capitalizing on their wealth of expertise and technologies in developing gasoline-powered engines, and aim to work together with the joint mission of establishing a design standard for small mobility’s hydrogen-powered engine, and of advancing the fundamental research endeavors in this area.
The members of HySE will continue to deepen their collaborative relations in order to provide a variety of small mobility options to users and meet their diverse needs, thereby contributing to the realization of a decarbonized society.
Kenji Komatsu, Chairman nominee of HySE and Executive Officer of Technical Research & Development Center, Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd., comments, “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.”
So the motorcycle future could be a mix of EV and non fossil fuel engines for all sizes and applications. Indeed, the Japanese government are not the only nation who are investing time and energy into the parallel approach to future mobility. India have also adopted this strategy by demanding all automotive manufacturers to be developing both EV and Non fossil fuel propelled vehicles.
So if your concerns were that the only solution being offered for the future was Electric Vehicles, then pause for thought as the likes of Hydrogen might be the new player in town with bio and synthetic fuels being the staple in new or retro fitted internal combustion engines.