Honda will launch a fuel cell electric vehicle in 2024 based on its bestselling CR-V crossover.
The automaker said it will produce the CR-V variant at its Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) in Marysville, Ohio, as part of its strategy to go fully electric by 2040 and carbon neutral by 2050. Instead of a battery, fuel cells use hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity that powers the vehicle.
Honda’s vehicle will be one of the first models to combine a plug-in feature with fuel cell technology, enabling the driver to switch between its onboard battery for shorter trips and hydrogen supply for longer trips.
The company didn’t say how many units it plans to build but noted that the factory specializes in small volume vehicles like the Acura NSX supercar.
Fuel cells boast a distant advantage over battery electric vehicles because they can be refueled in three to four minutes and travel longer distances before replenishing the power supply. However, the technology is not ready for mass adoption. The U.S. network of public hydrogen stations is concentrated in California and is in much shorter supply than EV chargers.
Toyota, Honda and General Motors have been developing fuel cell technology over the last two decades. Toyota’s Mirai mid-size sedan is heading into its second generation. Honda, which launched its first fuel cell vehicle, the FCX, in 2002, has invested more than $14 million in California’s hydrogen refueling network.
Other manufacturers are incorporating hydrogen into their strategy for going carbon neutral.
BMW and Toyota said in August that they will team up to produce hydrogen fuel cell vehicles starting mid-decade. By 2024, Bosch plans to invest more than $1 billion globally to develop fuel cell technologies, including more than $200 million to build fuel cell stacks for commercial trucks at its South Carolina factory.
Honda will release more details about the CR-V-based fuel cell SUV closer to its launch. The automaker launched the sixth-generation CR-V this year and expects the crossover’s hybrid version to represent half of the nameplate’s annual sales.