Kawasaki, Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha Will Collaborate On Hydrogen Power

Suzuki's hydrogen-powered Burgman, as tested by the UK's Metropolitan Police. Credit: Suzuki

Governments around the world are keen to shut down gasoline engine sales by the year 2035, but EVs are still not ready to replace petrol-powered motorcycles. So what are small engine manufacturers like Japan’s Kawasaki, Suzuki, Honda and Yamaha to do?

According to press releases from these companies, they’re going to investigate the use of hydrogen in powering motorcycles and other small engines. They’ll be helped with R&D input from Toyota and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (manufacturer of aerospace components, heavy construction equipment, etc.). The technical research association will be known as HYsE (the acronym stands for Hydrogen Small mobility & Engine technology).

Here’s how Honda’s PR explains the group’s plans:

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.

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.

In other words: Manufacturers realize they can’t entirely rely on battery power to replace gasoline. Hydrogen is one of the most practical alternatives available currently, so they’re investigating its potential in small engines. The research will go beyond just motorcycles. They’ll also see how hydrogen works as an energy source for drones, kei trucks and other small-engine applications.

BMW Motorrad announced a similar plan earlier this year, and Kawasaki actually showed off a hydrogen-powered bike at the EICMA show in 2022. Honda also declared an interest in hydrogen power in fall of 2022 as part of its big news conference about alternative energy. Going back even further, Suzuki demo’d a hydrogen-fueled Burgman scooter fleet with the Metropolitan Police in the UK, although that project seemed to go nowhere.

Ultimately, reservations over the safety and practicality of hydrogen have kept it from usage in small engines, but in the days to come, as gasoline is increasingly restricted, we may see a change—and the HYsE collaborative effort may be a part of that shift.


  1. Ons small problem, it takes more electrical energy to produce hydrogen to power a vehicle x kilometres that is does to power an electric vehicle the same x kilometres. The math against hydrogen is that simple

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