Have you ever wondered what would happen if you melded the best qualities of a plug-in hybrid and a hydrogen-powered vehicle? (What's that? No? Okay, fair.) Well, Honda both asked that question and answered it with the 2025 Honda CR-V e:FCEV, a model it's calling "America's first production plug-in hydrogen fuel cell vehicle." It's a mouthful of a description for an intriguing new breed of zero-emission vehicle. And it's part of Honda's wider ambitions in the hydrogen space. 

Allow me to explain what's going on here. 

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Hydrogen fuel-cell EVs

Hydrogen-powered EVs are a niche within a niche, and they only exist in California. They're quicker to fuel than regular electric cars, but a lack of reliable fueling infrastructure is holding them back. 

A Plug-in Hybrid, But Make It Hydrogen

The CR-V e:FCEV (the FCEV stands for fuel-cell electric vehicle) is an electric SUV that takes both electrons and hydrogen. Filling its 17.7-kilowatt-hour battery using an EV charger yields up to 29 miles of driving range, Honda says. Fueling the CR-V's tanks at a hydrogen station boosts its total mileage to an EPA-estimated 270.

2025 Honda CR-V e:FCEV

The idea is one can plug it in at home and get enough inexpensive electric range to run daily errands, or they can fill it with hydrogen for longer journeys.

It's the same concept behind plug-in hybrids, which are something like a cross between an electric car and a conventional hybrid, like a Toyota Prius. Plug-in hybrids offer a few dozen miles of electric range married with the road-tripping convenience of a gasoline engine. Here Honda has swapped in a hydrogen fuel-cell system, which generates electricity using gas and produces water as a byproduct

Gallery: 2025 Honda CR-V e:FCEV

The e:FCEV will be available to lease in California later this year. There will be just one trim to choose from: Touring. In addition to the funky new powertrain, the new variant has exterior cues that make it stand out from other CR-Vs: a unique grill, liftgate and rear fascia, along with new body panels forward of the A-pillar. 

Regardless of fuel source, the energy flows to a front-mounted motor producing a claimed 174 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. One standout feature: It also comes with the ability to share 1,500 watts of electric power with camping gear, power tools, appliances and more. 

Cargo space may be disappointing for SUV buyers, though. The CR-V's hydrogen tanks protrude into the cargo area, effectively eliminating what looks to be a couple of large suitcases-worth of open space. 

Honda's Hydrogen Ambitions

The CR-V e:FCEV uses Honda's second-generation hydrogen fuel-cell technology, which it co-developed with General Motors. Honda said the new tech is cheaper, more durable and higher performance than the system in the Clarity Fuel Cell, Honda's hydrogen vehicle that was discontinued in 2021. 

Honda says it aims to make its car business carbon-neutral by 2040 through a combination of EVs and fuel-cell vehicles. But the automaker's hydrogen ambitions extend far beyond passenger vehicles.


Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe said during a roundtable in January that EV technology is the "optimum solution" for making passenger cars carbon-neutral, whereas hydrogen will be more important for buses, trucks and stationary generators. Shinji Aoyama, the company’s global executive vice president, added that the upcoming CR-V is an important "showcase" of how Honda's fuel-cell tech is improving.

Honda is also working on hydrogen construction equipment and is researching hydrogen's potential as an electricity source in space, it said in a press release. 

In short, fuel-cell passenger cars seem poised to remain only a small part of Honda's business over the coming years. But like several automakers, perhaps most notably Toyota, Hyundai and BMW, it's keeping that technology warm in case it takes off (including in non-U.S. markets) in the coming decades.

2025 Honda CR-V e:FCEV

Hydrogen's Rocky Road

But the problem is less the car, and more of the fuel itself. Hydrogen stations are incredibly expensive to build—more so than even EV fast-chargers—so few fueling partners stepped up to help Honda and Toyota with their H2 dreams.

As a result, hydrogen-powered cars have been a niche for years. Save for some mishaps, they only exist in California, which is home to all of the country's 52 fueling stations. Their main draw is that their tanks take just a few minutes to fill up, just like a conventional car. Unlike a conventional car, though, they don't emit harmful tailpipe emissions. And you don't have to sit around for a half-hour waiting for your car to charge like you would with a standard EV.

Fuel-cell cars sound terrific on paper—until you try to fill one up. California's hydrogen stations are uncommon (increasingly so, apparently) and routinely out of order. The price of hydrogen has skyrocketed in recent years, although free fuel cards from automakers help offset that burden on drivers. Shell recently shut down all of its seven remaining hydrogen locations in California, citing "hydrogen supply complications and other external market factors." (And despite copious support from the Japanese government, hybrids aren't selling well there, either.)

The CR-V e:FCEV is, no doubt, an interesting piece of tech. And the fact that you can plug it in may make it more appealing than other hydrogen vehicles, which rely solely on public infrastructure. But the fueling experience will have to start improving to make it a truly attractive choice. 

Contact the author: tim.levin@insideevs.com

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