Suzuki Intends To Commercialize Hydrogen Fuel Cell Motorcycles

10 months ago by Mark Kane 39

Suzuki Crosscage FCV concepf from 2007 Tokyo Motor Show

Suzuki Crosscage FCV concepf from 2007 Tokyo Motor Show

Suzuki

Suzuki

Suzuki joins the hydrogen fuel cell alliance and intends to introduce FCV motorcycles and scooters in the near future.

Tests on public roads in Japan are expected to begin in 2016, and the government is working on safety standards to secure hydrogen tanks in case of accidents.

“Suzuki hopes to turn its fuel cell two-wheeler into one of its major products.”

The Japanese company has already established a joint venture with Intelligent Energy Holdings in UK to produce the hydrogen fuel cell Burgman scooter – of which, we saw a prototype of Burgman FCV several years ago (see video).

Besides motorcycles and scooters, there could be compact four-wheel fuel cell vehicles.

Source: Nikkei via Green Car Congress

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39 responses to "Suzuki Intends To Commercialize Hydrogen Fuel Cell Motorcycles"

  1. kosee says:

    Would be nice to state somewhere why they are making this instead of battery electric motorcycles.

    But probably they’re not saying that…

    1. SJC says:

      It is range without size and weight.

      1. kosee says:

        Yes but as you can see in the rest of this topic that’s… improbable.

    2. zzzzzzzzzz says:

      It is obvious, energy density. Excessive weight kills motocycle usability even more than for cars.

  2. offib says:

    Sure.

  3. R.S. says:

    Another project for 20somethingsomethingmublemuble. And compact FCVs and scooters, because they are the least cost sensitive?

  4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Just when you thought the fool cell madness couldn’t get any worse…

    1. sven says:

      …easyJet announces that they are putting hydrogen fuel cells on their jet airplanes! As an added bonus, the water generated by the hydrogen fuel cells can be recycled and served to passengers as drinking water. 😀

      http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/02/aviation/easyjet-hybrid-plane-hydrogen-fuel-cell/

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/12134814/EasyJet-to-trial-worlds-first-hydrogen-hybrid-plane.html

      1. jmac says:

        @ sven

        The idea of using electrically powered taxi wheels on jet aircraft has been around for a while actually. Rather than use the jet engines to maneuver the aircraft, a relatively small electric motor (appx 300 lbs.) is placed in the front steering wheel which then drives the aircraft around the terminal.

        Huge savings in jet fuel and another big plus is that jet-liners will no longer need to be towed by a runway taxi to quque up for takeoff.

        This wheel motor can be run with batteries alone – no need for a fuel cell except to supposedly make drinking water for the passengers.

        Also, if you notice, this so-called hydrogen system, as described in the Telegraph article and on CNN has a great big fat bunch of solar panels on the roof of the plane, obviously to replenish the battery system since fuel cells just make electricity and do not store it.

        Obviously, there is solar PV and storage batteries involved involved in this so-called breakthrough. But, just as in the case of automobiles, there is no compelling reason to use a hydrogen fuel cell when batteries alone will do just fine.

        http://gizmodo.com/these-little-electric-wheels-will-save-airlines-big-buc-1471288948

        1. Nix says:

          Those don’t work in snow or icy conditions.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Interesting, thanks!

        According to the article, they’re only planning to use fuel cells to power ground movements of the plane, to save firing up the jet engines for that.

        For that use, the higher cost of hydrogen might not be a barrier. H2 does have the advantage of being very low weight, altho rather high volume (even when compressed) compared to gasoline or aviation fuel.

        I’m not one of those who grossly exaggerates the danger of using hydrogen fuel*, so I think that could be a real possibility, and certainly is worthy of at least developing and testing a prototype.

        *For example, the Hindenberg would have burned rapidly (altho not as intensely) even if it was filled with helium, because its canvas covering was unknowingly painted with thermite!

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Wikipedia is a good source of info on most well-documented things, but I question the accuracy on something as esoteric as this, especially since the Zepplin company apparently suppressed the results of their investigation into the cause of the fire. Also, critical reading of the article shows that there is a lot of speculation, and a lot of that is contradictory.

            I saw a documentary about the Hindenberg where they showed what happened when someone set fire to a scrap of cloth found in the archives of the Zepplin company; a sample of the same material that covered the Hindenberg. It burnt up almost as fast as flash paper! Indeed, it burnt as fast as you’d expect from cloth impregnated with thermite. So unless that was faked, the various claims in the Wiki article that a fire on the canvas cover alone would have spread slowly… simply cannot be true.

            Now, I have wondered about the required ignition temperature. As I understand it, powdered aluminum (and therefore thermite) has a very high ignition temperature. So, could the static discharge spark which apparently set fire to the Hindenberg have ignited the thermite? Perhaps, perhaps not. I’d be interested in seeing some actual experiments along that line. Armchair theorizing only goes so far, and real-world experiments sometimes give unexpected results.

            One thing is not in question: Onlookers saw the Hindenberg burning with an orange flame. Hydrogen gas burns with a colorless flame, so what they actually saw burning wasn’t hydrogen. It was something else, presumably the canvas covering… whether or not it was impregnated with thermite… and the envelope material of the internal gas bags. But common sense says the orange flame would have been much more intense if the canvas covering was impregnated with thermite.

            1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

              Also, according to the same documentary I’ve seen, the Zepplin company quietly changed the paint they were using on the canvas covers of their zepplins, after the investigation into the Hindenberg fire was finished. Why would they have done that if the paint wasn’t particularly flammable?

      3. Phr3d says:

        @sven:
        “served to passengers as drinking water”

        you forgot to mention that it is unnaturally purified, hehe

        “the purest water known to mankind, available ONLY to our First Class easyJet passengers.”

      4. JimGord says:

        Compressed hydrogen on a plane. What could possibly go wrong?
        Do not even think about flying in one.

  5. Driverguy01 says:

    That is the exact bike i bought 7 years ago with the intent to convert it to electric but, life has a few suprises in store sometimes, and mine was a crash that left me handicaped… for life. How ironic!

  6. Jonathan B says:

    HAHA Is this from The Onion? Oh geez. Just stop with the hydrogen crap already.

  7. SparkEV says:

    What’s weight to power ratio? IMO, small FC are not powerful enough for motorcycles, makes for boring scooters. But if they can achieve weight of 400 lb or less and quarter mile in 9 seconds or less, it could be interesting. I don’t see pigs in the sky, yet, so …

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I don’t know enough to address the power-to-weight question, but properly designed fuel cell systems can have a higher energy-to-weight ratio than batteries. Lockheed Martin designed a man-portable fuel cell system for just that reason.

      http://www.miltechmag.com/search?q=fuel+cell

      But as I’m sure you know, SparkEV, motorcycles need a high power-to-weight ratio in their powertrains, so this type of system might not be sufficient.

      1. Nix says:

        Thanks for knowing the difference between power and energy.

        The line of Zero electric motorcycles shows the relationship between power and performance in EV motorcycles. Larger batteries are needed to get reasonable on-road performance.

        Based upon the Zero’s, a fuel cell motorcycle would probably need at least an 8-10 kWh battery to go with the fuel cell itself to perform reasonably well. Adding a fuel cell would indeed increase the energy available, and extend range. But once you’ve stuffed an 8-10 kWh battery in a motorcycle, there isn’t much room left for a fuel cell and a hydrogen tank. go much smaller in battery size, and it is going to be too slow.

        And the typical range of even a gas motorcycle is notoriously shorter than a car. Having to continually drive to a hydrogen station with a small tank isn’t going to be fun.

        1. SparkEV says:

          I guess it depends on the bike. Canyon carving (sports bikes) would be using more power, and FC is completely unsuited for that. Battery might be ok, though it’s still lacking for now. Suzuki looks like it’s suited for canyons with it mono shock/lever on both front and rear.

          But for cruisers and tourers, FC might work though the tank won’t get you nearly as much range as gasoline tank. Assuming, of course, they could fill it.

          That leaves out sport tourers that likes canyon carving plus iron butt. No battery/FC bike would work as you point out. I don’t know what the solution could be.

          1. Nix says:

            Even cruisers and tourers need a big battery to get reasonable performance that motorcycle riders expect in the US.

            Anything less than 6 kWh, and you are in the scooter or sub-Bajaj Pulsar 135cc territory of performance. (The Pulsar is an Indian motorcycle, that is too slow for US standards to ever be sold here. ~75 mph top speed).

            Even the Harley Livewire, with 7-8 kWh battery (estimated) was described as: “an electric concept bike that fell woefully short of the performance levels” with “Mediocre top speed and acceleration”.

            http://insideevs.com/harley-davidson-ceo-talks-livewire-range-too-low-cost-too-high-needs-next-gen-battery/

            A small battery just isn’t going to perform well enough for the US market. A small fuel cell just isn’t going to produce enough instant torque without a big battery. Fuel cells are good at producing constant energy, but are lousy at generating the kind of instant power needed to accelerate at speeds US motorcycle owners expect.

            Not just sports bike owners either. Not even 10 kWh Brammo’s in sports mode (I’ve ridden them) can come close to a sports bike made any time from the 1980’s on (I’ve owned those too). 10 kWh (which completely fills the motorcycle leaving no room for a fuel cell) only gets you Suzuki SV650 levels of power. You need even more battery to come anywhere near a true sports bike.

            1. SparkEV says:

              It’s sad to hear there won’t be decent electric solution. But I am envious that you rode Brammo (Empluse R?) Did you try a wheelie? (yeah yeah, I’m still a kid when it comes to that)

              1. Nix says:

                I’ve ridden both the R and standard version, in both performance mode and regular mode.

                None of them will wheelie with the stock gearing. At least not for a big guy like me. A chainring swap will fix that, but brings down the top speed to under 100 MPH.

                The problem with trying to wheelie the Brammo is that there is no flywheel/engine momentum to use get the front wheel to pop up. The electric motor rev’s so freely and quickly up and down, that when you rev it and dump the clutch, the motor just quickly drops in RPM to match the wheel speed, and starts delivering power straight to the ground. You just take off quickly like you had really good traction control, instead of jerking the front wheel up like an ICE bike.

                It still feels much faster than it actually is, because response is so instant. You don’t use the clutch to launch from a start (had to get used to), so you twist and go.

                Electric motorcycles definitely CAN be built to perform well. The Zero SR is a prime example, with even more powerful bikes at even higher prices. But they have to pack batteries into every inch of available space to make it work. There is no room for a second entire drivetrain.

            2. Phr3d says:

              @Nix, thanks for the general review – haven’t deuced since the CR days and ASSumed that performance would be easy, it was the range that would be the stopper.

              NOT a Harley fan, mind you, but if the H cannot get performance to impress, that says quite a bit. 0-100 is ‘mediocre’ from an 8kWh?
              show my age..
              Bummer

      2. SparkEV says:

        Sports bikes are about 3 lb/hp. Some approach 2.5.

  8. jmac says:

    Fuel cells are limited in how much electricity they can provide so there’s usually a battery in fuel cell vehicles to make up for the doggy fuel cell.

    But if you’re going to all the trouble and expense to put in a sizable battery along with the fuel cell for the purpose of acceleration and to recoup braking energy, for emergency flashers, lights, etc., then why not just dump the fuel cell and go with the battery alone ? Fuel cells just make electricity, they do not store it. Fuel cells need batteries, but batteries DO NOT need fuel cells !!

    Let’s take away all the batteries from these hydrogen hotshots. Then, let’s see what naked H2 can do. I can’t wait until some of these fuel cell bozos (no booster batteries allowed) head down to the local drag strip and get their asses handed to them. LOL

    Hydrogen is going to be expensive, difficult to implement and worst of all redundant. Did I forget to mention expensive, pointless and redundant ?

    1. Nix says:

      You should have mentioned how redundant, pointless, and expensive a fuel cell would be on a motorcycle that would also have to have a large battery anyways…..

      =)

  9. Nix says:

    I just realized that the date on the photo is from 2007.

    Lucy got us with that football again!

    [insert your favorite facepalm GIF here]

  10. Alpha777 says:

    Oil INdustry Bribes coming out Full Force.

  11. Vinny says:

    This has got to be the two-wheeled version of a compliance car. Suzuki has got to be fully aware of what Zero and Victory are doing. So instead of coming out with a motorcycle that can compete with both companies Suzuki decides to come out with something that has no infrastructure to refuel it. Sure has to be some interesting politics behind this decision.

  12. JimGord says:

    Yes, they too can use the hydrogen fueling infrastructure that will never exist.

  13. Chris O says:

    Why would anybody want one? Because they feel gas is just too cheap and gas powered bikes are too light and fast, fill up too quickly and there is just too many gas stations to choose from?

    As always with HFCVs actually selling any is as challenging as engineering them.

  14. This reeks of Japanese government subsidy and backslapping.

  15. Stephen Hodges says:

    I do think that it is missing the pedals, because how else will it get to the available H2 stations?

  16. Richard Gozinya says:

    Japan is heavily invested in the whole hydrogen thing, so it stands to reason that more Japanese corporations are being pressured to go that way.

    In any case, anybody wanting to play in the ZEV motorcycle game, the Zero SR is the benchmark to beat, good luck.