Isuzu Motors Limited and Honda R&D Co., Ltd., a R&D subsidiary of Honda Motor Co., Ltd., agreed to undertake joint research on heavy-duty trucks, utilizing fuel cells (FC) as the powertrain.
As a commercial vehicle manufacturer committed to support transportation, Isuzu has been striving to promote the utilization of low-carbon and sustainable energy. To that end, Isuzu has been researching and developing various powertrains including clean diesel engine, engines for natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and electric vehicle (EV) powertrains, which accommodate a broad range of customer needs and how vehicles are used.
In parallel, Honda has been working toward the realization of a carbon-free society and, to this end, in addition to hybrid and battery electric vehicles, Honda has been researching and developing fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), the ultimate environmental technology, for more than 30 years.
There are still some issues that need to be addressed to popularize the use of FC and hydrogen energy, including issues related to cost and infrastructure. These issues need to be tackled not only by individual companies but more expansively through industry-wide initiatives.
Against this backdrop, Isuzu was striving to expand its lineup of next-generation powertrains for heavy-duty trucks, and Honda was striving to expand application of its FC technologies beyond use for passenger vehicles, which will represent progress toward the realization of a hydrogen society. Sharing the same technological research goals, the two companies reached an agreement to conduct joint research on heavy-duty FC trucks.
Taking advantage of the respective strengths each company has amassed over a long period of time, that is, Isuzu’s strengths in the development of heavy-duty trucks and Honda’s strengths in the development of FC, the two companies will strive to establish the foundation for basic technologies such as FC powertrain and vehicle control technologies.
Commenting on the new partnership, David Leggett, Automotive Editor at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, said:
Hydrogen fuel-cell technology is not cheap to develop, so the collaboration between Isuzu and Honda makes sense for both. The development of these cells for use in freight transportation and logistics could well turn out to be a significant step in the long-term transition to a cleaner, hydrogen-based economy.
Hydrogen fuel-cells is an emerging technology that shows big promise for a low-carbon transportation future, despite current refueling infrastructure constraints. Companies are waking up to the suitability of hydrogen fuel-cells for heavy-duty freight and commercial vehicle applications, which offer the advantage of zero-emissions and potentially a long range between refueling—as much as 400km.
Other battery-based electric drive technologies, which are increasingly seen in passenger cars and light delivery vehicles, are less suitable for the transportation of heavy loads over long distances.