Kawasaki’s big news at the 2022 EICMA show was new electric and hybrid motorcycle prototypes, but one other alt-energy machine also raised our eyebrows: A new hydrogen project. And now, news from moto-sleuth Ben Purvis indicates this project appears to be getting closer to market.
According to paperwork that Purvis pulled out of the ether (actually, from Euro regulatory documents), Kawasaki has trademarked a logo and a name (HySE) for its upcoming hydrogen motorcycle.
While that doesn’t indicate a reveal as a 2024 model, it does show Kawasaki sees enough promise in the platform that it’s planning or at least hoping to sell it down the road.
Hydrogen is a consideration these days because a hydrogen fuel cell offers the benefits of petroleum product without carbon emissions. Sort of.
The one major advantage that gasoline has over current EV tech is that it’s easily portable outside the power grid. Hydrogen sort of offers the same advantage; you can’t carry a can of hydrogen as easily as a can of gasoline, but you can theoretically carry containerized hydrogen and use it to fuel motorcycles of any shape or size. You could do the same thing with a battery pack if all electric motorcycles used the same quick-swap battery, but they don’t. Companies are working on this at the scooter level, but that’s it so far.
Hydrogen can also be used without adding to the strain on the power grid, which is already a problem in some markets.
Unfortunately, when people think hydrogen, they think of the Hindenburg disaster, and that’s not entirely unfair—however, the “hydrogen industry” itself says that it’s likely safer than gasoline in a crash. Good point; motorcyclists have been straddling tanks full of highly flammable fuel for well over 100 years now, and we rarely stop to question the practice.
Some of you might even remember Suzuki tried hydrogen-powered Burgmans back in 2017, in a trial with the Metropolitan Police in London, UK. Alas, it seems that project pretty much trailed off into nothing, but this idea from Kawi is neither new, nor is it going away. In fact, judging by the fact they’re applying for trademarks for the project, it looks like it’s here to stay.
Hydrogen makes far more sense to me. We’re going to reach a point similar to Beta vs VHS and will decide between electric or hydrogen.