TOKYO -- Honda Motor will work with Isuzu Motors to develop hydrogen-powered trucks, seeing more potential for fuel cell technology in commercial vehicles rather than passenger cars, Nikkei has learned.
Honda for the first time will provide an outside company access to its fuel cells, which combine hydrogen with oxygen in the air to produce electricity. The Japanese automakers aim to bring such trucks to market as swiftly as possible.
Hydrogen-powered automobiles have been hailed as the ultimate eco-friendly transport because they emit no greenhouse gases while operating, only water.
But adoption has been hampered by the lack of a refueling infrastructure, which would be easier to create for commercial vehicles traveling fixed routes.
As truck maker Isuzu looks to commercialize a fuel cell vehicle, Honda will consider selling its system to other companies as well, including shipbuilders.
Toyota Motor launched the world's first hydrogen-powered automobile, the Mirai, in 2014. Honda followed with the Clarity in 2016. But the vehicles are complex and costly. The Clarity is priced at 7.83 million yen ($71,000).
The global market for hydrogen autos totaled only about 4,000 vehicles in 2018, British research firm IHS Markit said, compared with 1.4 million electric vehicles sold.
But for commercial vehicles, hydrogen power may be more suitable than electric motors, which need batteries that add weight and take time to charge. As a passenger car manufacturer, Honda saw limited opportunities to commercialize fuel cell technology on its own, and decided to work with Isuzu.