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Honda Unveils New Hydrogen-Powered SUV with Plug-In Capability

Honda's innovative SUV aims to overcome hydrogen infrastructure challenges, blending electric and hydrogen fuel cell technologies
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Honda Motor is making another venture into the hydrogen car market, debuting a hydrogen-powered sport utility vehicle (SUV) with plug-in functionality that uses a fundamentally different approach in a bid to win the hearts of a bigger audience. The CR-V e:FCEV was revealed in Tokyo at a renewable energy technology exhibition. It’s a version of the next-generation CR-V that combines Honda’s hydrogen fuel cell and plug-in hybrid technologies and is the latest piece of mobility innovation from the company that’s attempting to reinvent the very idea of an automobile. The CR-V e:FCEV PV will launch this summer in western California and in Japan. Pricing isn’t available. Honda engineers, led by Koichi Ikoma, said the infrastructure for hydrogen in Japan is growing, as is government support, adding to the stable and growing network of hydrogen stations in California, where fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are also becoming increasingly popular.

The new model is aimed at a much broader audience, potentially alleviating many people’s biggest fear of the technology: finding a hydrogen station. It’s dual functionality allows it to operate on battery power for “more than 60 km” (almost 37 miles) before needing hydrogen, which it then refuels in “just three minutes” for a range exceeding 600 km, partially quashing range anxiety.

The SUV format was chosen based on consumer preferences for previous models, and based on the constant feedback about them, adjusted to suit the needs of a modern motorist. For a vehicle of this kind, that means usability for much more than just the daily grind. Ikoma and his team planned it that way, giving it the ability to power household appliances. That makes it ideal for outdoor activities, and a potential life-saver in emergencies. “We’re focusing on multi-functional futurization of FCVs,” he explained, “starting with the needs of consumers.”

A new, high power fuel cell system, developed in collaboration with General Motors, is above all the thing that makes this (the) next-gen PV. It’s the same fuel cell stack from Honda’s Clarity fuel cell sedan, but made cheaper by improved efficiency and a dramatic reduction in platinum usage. It’s also part of why Honda has promised to create a zero-emission fleet by 2040, despite a whole lot of obstacles in the form of a worldwide fleet still dominated by conventional electric vehicles (EVs) and a fleet of FCVs that is very, very modest indeed.

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