Kawasaki’s been hard at work exploring various ways to further carbon neutrality goals for several years. We’ve had cautious glimpses at some of this work on occasion, from a peek at its hydrogen-powered motorcycle to a very recent glimpse under the fairings of its battery electric bike. Still, there comes a time when it’s better to have friends to back you up.
That’s why, on November 13, 2021, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Subaru, Toyota, Mazda, and Yamaha jointly announced their plans to cooperate in order to reach their carbon neutrality goals. Some of it will involve electrification, but this collective group believes that it can still make internal combustion engines work by simply using more carbon neutral fuels. Is it greenwashing, or is there something more to it?
In a perfect world, of course, this wouldn’t be an issue. In a slightly less-perfect world, production of green hydrogen is theoretically possible, but an awful lot of steps have to be taken to keep it truly neutral. From harnessing wind energy to create the hydrogen, to transporting the hydrogen for use using truly carbon-neutral transportation methods, forging that chain involves many careful links. Will it actually work that way? We certainly hope so, but it's all speculation at this point.
Anyway, back to the prongs of this massive multi-company agreement that are motorcycle-related. While Mazda, Subaru, Toyota, and Yamaha are all engaged at various levels in developing hydrogen racing engines for four-wheeled vehicles, Kawasaki and Yamaha are currently considering embarking on joint hydrogen engine research for motorcycles. Since both companies have already been exploring this arena independently, it makes sense that they’d want to compare and contrast what they’ve learned, and perhaps truly put their heads together regarding what’s working and what isn’t.
While it’s currently only Kawasaki and Yamaha that have announced these plans to work together on hydrogen motorcycle engine development, they also add the following two lines of intrigue in their joint press release:
Going forward, they are planned to be joined by Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and Suzuki Motor Corporation, and the four companies intend to jointly explore the possibility of achieving carbon neutrality through the use of internal combustion engines in two-wheeled vehicles. To maintain a distinct line between cooperation and competition, they intend to proceed after establishing a framework that will clearly define areas of cooperation and collaborative research.
We don’t know what the future holds, but it will certainly be interesting to see.