Honda Is Building a Zany Plug-in Hybrid Hydrogen CR-V

Who said the CR-V had to be boring?

honda crv fuel cell engine

Honda has been caught a bit flat-footed by the transition to electric vehicles. While even some of the most EV-skeptical brands, like Toyota, have viable EVs on the road, Honda won't deliver a mainstream electric vehicle to America until 2024. And even then, the Honda Prologue and its Acura variant will be based on GM's Ultium platform. A true Honda EV for America may not arrive until the late 2020s.

But Honda may have found a shortcut to getting zero-emissions vehicles on the road. The brand announced it will build a hydrogen fuel cell version of its popular CR-V compact crossover. The CR-V FCEV (which is a mouthful) will also be a plug-in hybrid capable of operating on battery power only. Honda says 100 percent of its global sales will be fuel-cell or battery electric by 2040.

Beyond that, Honda provided few details that would help put this vehicle into context, like performance, price point and whether Honda intends to sell the fuel cell CRV beyond compliance states.

Broadly, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are electric vehicles. They just use electricity generated from fuel cells to power the electric motors rather than storing the energy in batteries. On paper, the technology offers some advantages over battery electric vehicles. You can refill a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in a few minutes — potentially even less than that if swappable fuel tanks become viable. And you don't have to laden the vehicle with heavy battery packs (though Honda intended to add weight with a PHEV here).

The challenge for hydrogen catching on is still infrastructure. Battery electric vehicles can draw power from the existing grid. Hydrogen for fuel cells must be transported, stored and dispensed like gasoline. And there's currently one hydrogen station in North America outside of California, which may be the only place where an FCEV CR-V would be viable.


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