Surprising range

Honda builds the first hydrogen plug-in hybrid

11.07.2024 06:00

In the recent past, the topic of hydrogen cars has become somewhat quieter. But the technology of the future continues to show signs of life. Honda's latest contribution is unusual: a plug-in hybrid with a hydrogen fuel cell.

With the CR-V e:FCEV, Honda is once again producing a passenger car model with a fuel cell drive in the USA, albeit an unusual one. The hydrogen comeback may come as a surprise, as the Japanese company had completely withdrawn from this segment in 2021 with the end of production of the Clarity Fuel Cell, which has been built a total of 1900 times since 2016. Now a new hydrogen-powered CR-V is following, based on fuel cell technology developed by Honda together with General Motors.

This is a 92 kW fuel cell which, in conjunction with an 18 kWh traction battery, supplies a 130 kW electric motor with electricity. According to the US EPA measurement cycle, the new CR-V variant should have a range of 435 kilometers. Less than most electric cars.

Two hydrogen tanks allow a range of around 400 kilometers. (Bild: Honda)
Two hydrogen tanks allow a range of around 400 kilometers.

Two hours plus four minutes to refuel
The 4.3 kilogram hydrogen tank is primarily responsible for the range potential. The CR-V e:FCEV can also travel 46 kilometers on the electricity from the battery alone. The highlight: the battery not only serves as a buffer between the fuel cell and the electric drive, but can also be charged with externally supplied electricity, just like a plug-in hybrid. While the high-pressure tank can be filled with hydrogen in around 4 minutes, charging the battery takes just under 2 hours. The 4.80 meter long Honda also offers a bidirectional charging function, which can also be used to operate electrical devices.

The 18-kWh battery should last for 46 kilometers. (Bild: Honda)
The 18-kWh battery should last for 46 kilometers.

Honda will sell the CR-V e:FCEV in the USA and Japan. This makes the fuel cell variant the only sixth-generation CR-V to be offered in Japan. It will also be the only hydrogen passenger car model in the USA. The market launch will take place this year. The CR-V e:FCEV - like the Clarity Fuel Cell before it - will probably not come to Europe.

However, the topic of fuel cell drives has recently picked up speed again in Europe. In addition to the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo models that have been available for several years, BMW produced a small fleet of iX5 Hydrogens last year, although these are not intended for sale but as a precursor to a fuel cell production model planned for 2030. Stellantis also started producing hydrogen-powered vans at the beginning of 2024, which will be sold as the Opel Vivaro/Movano or Peugeot E-Expert/E-Boxer, among others. (Mario Hommen/SPX)

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