Remember Suzuki’s hydrogen-powered Burgman project from about five years back? We thought it was shelved for good, since we had never really heard the result, but it seems that is not the case. Suzuki now says it will exhibit a new hydrogen-fueled Burgman at the Japan Mobility Conference this fall.
What, exactly is this new machine about? We don’t have a lot of details. We know the scoot on display is based on the Burgman 400, not the older 650 flagship. Suzuki will display a cutaway view that shows how the engine works. And yes, it does run an internal combustion engine, not a hydrogen fuel cell. What does that mean for how it fits into emissions regulations? Hard to say.
However, it does seem hydrogen is being seriously considered as a replacement for petrol power instead of EV tech. Electric motorcycles haven’t developed as quickly as many riders have hoped, and the industry knows that zero-emissions deadlines are coming. Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki recently announced a cooperative effort with automaker Toyota to develop hydrogen power for small engines.
Still, there are many complications to overcome. Many people have reservations over hydrogen power, with mental images of the Hindenburg Disaster when the the subject is brought up. And even though EV tech is held back by a spotty distribution network (charging stations are still few and far between outside many cities), it’s far, far worse for hydrogen. When was the last time you saw a hydrogen refueling station? For a lot of us, the answer is “Never.”
As with Suzuki’s previous hydrogen-powered Burgman project, using these as fleet vehicles makes sense. Having a central refueling station is easy-peasy, if you don’t have to rely on top-ups along public roads. But if the public is to adopt hydrogen bikes, then we’re going to have to see a whole lot of hydrogen infrastructure built in the next decade.