Isuzu would like to explore the use of hydrogen fuel cells in heavy-duty trucks using Honda tech.

Isuzu, a Japanese commercial vehicle manufacturer, recently entered a partnership with Honda to jointly research the possibility of using hydrogen fuel cells to power heavy-duty trucks.

For Isuzu, which produce also diesel engines, the times of electrification are probably very challenging. Diesel is in retreat, emission requirements are stricter and gradual progress in batteries does not allow for "business as usual."

Unfortunately (in our opinion), instead of moving towards all-electric trucks, Isuzu is trying to develop FCVs.

Honda's experience in hydrogen fuel cells surely will help to speed up the development of FCVs trucks in the pilot program, but the question is whether it really has any chances for commercialization?

"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."

The joint project is only for two years, according to Reuters, which suggests that Isuzu is not convinced about hydrogen either.

A lot depends on the outcome and progress in electric trucks around the world. A few good examples, like the eventual successful rollout of the Tesla Semi or strong push by Daimler, might be enough to trigger an avalanche.

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Isuzu and Honda Sign an Agreement to Conduct Joint Research on Fuel Cell-powered Heavy-duty Trucks

TOKYO, Japan, January 15, 2020 – Isuzu Motors Limited and Honda R&D Co., Ltd., a R&D subsidiary of Honda Motor Co., Ltd., today signed an agreement to undertake joint research on heavy-duty trucks, utilizing fuel cells (FC) as the powertrain.

Today, the automobile industry is facing demand to reduce exhaust gas/carbon emissions from mobility products in order to address the on-going global challenge of reducing humanity's environmental footprint. Moreover, from the perspective of energy security, the industry is required to take initiatives to promote utilization of renewable energy.

Under these circumstances, 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. Moreover, through this joint research, Isuzu and Honda will not only realize clean, low-noise, low-vibration heavy-duty trucks customers are waiting for, but also promote expansive discussions by the industry so that the use of FC trucks and hydrogen energy can contribute to the future prosperity of the logistics industry and all other industries in our society and to the early realization of hydrogen society.