Amidst a growing fuel crisis and a steady increase in fuel prices, Honda and Isuzu have agreed to team up to make alternative-fueled commercial vehicles for the future. The Japanese brand duo wants to also meet the demand for reduced exhaust gas/carbon emissions from mobility products.
Together, the two carmakers will work on hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles. The fuel cells (FC) are swappable – an advantage over electric vehicle batteries that need hours of charging. One has to do is swap out the empty FC for a full one. It’s convenient and brings it much closer to how combustion engines fuel up. FC vehicles are also very clean as clean water is the only by-product after the combustion process.
Currently, however, FC technology is hindered by the cost of production and lack of infrastructure to easily recharge and swap fuel cells between vehicles.
Separately, Isuzu has been striving to promote the utilization of low-carbon and sustainable energy. It has been researching and developing various powertrains including clean diesel engines, engines that run on natural gas, and electric vehicle powertrains. These can accommodate a broad range of customer needs and how vehicles are used.
Honda, on the other hand, has been researching and developing hybrid, battery-electric vehicles, and FC vehicles for more than 30 years. The brand’s end goal is to work for the realization of a carbon-free society.
With the unified goal of creating FC vehicles, the two companies will strive to establish the foundation for basic technologies such as an FC powertrain and vehicle control technologies. The joint research of the two will focus on creating clean, low-noise, and low-vibration heavy-duty trucks. The two Japanese brands also want to promote the use of FC trucks and hydrogen energy as a means of contributing to the future prosperity of the logistics industry.
In hindsight, other automakers have already explored the use of fuel cells in cars. Hyundai already has an FC vehicle available for sale since 2013 in the form of the ix35 FCEV and the Nexo. Battery technology has also seen advancements. Solid-state batteries have risen in prominence coming with higher capacities and safer form factors. Together, all these advancements are all in the spirit of cleaner emissions.