Honda Motor Co. will build a fuel cell electric version of its sixth generation CR-V compact crossover starting in 2024.
In addition to using fuel cell technology, which promises quick refueling and generous range, the vehicle will feature a plug that will enable drivers to charge the onboard battery for electricity-powered trips around town.
The Japanese automaker will produce the vehicles at its Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio. Honda did not say how many CR-V fuel cell vehicles it expects to build, but the facility is used for assembling lower-volume products and specialty performance vehicles such as the hybrid Acura NSX supercar, which ceased production there this month.
Honda, the world’s largest maker of gasoline engines, has set an aggressive goal to reach carbon neutrality for its operations and products by 2050, which includes a complete electrification of its vehicle lineup by 2040.
The production of fuel cells in the U.S. will help Honda “further explore their great potential as part of a sustainable transportation future,” Gary Robinson, American Honda Motor Co.’s vice president of auto planning and strategy, said in a statement.
The 2024 target date for the CR-V fuel cell coincides with the launch of Honda’s first battery-electric vehicle, the Prologue midsize crossover, which will be built in collaboration with General Motors.
In the meantime, Honda will offer hybrid variants of its top-selling CR-V, Accord and Civic to drive down emissions and ready its customers for electrification. While it has debuted the CR-V hybrid, it expects to launch a hybrid Accord in January. The Civic hybrid plan is still forthcoming.
Fuel cell vehicles use a high-pressure hydrogen tank to generate electricity inside fuel cells, which powers the vehicle’s electric motor. While the act of refueling is comparable to filling up a gas tank both in time and process, the lack of hydrogen refueling stations has proved challenging for automakers such as Honda and Toyota, which are developing the technology.
The country’s hydrogen network has so far been focused on the West Coast, clustered primarily in California. Honda says it has invested $14 million to support the infrastructure in the Golden State, which has forged a pathway for zero-emission vehicles.
Since 2013, Honda has been part of the H2USA private-public partnership with other automakers, hydrogen suppliers and the fuel cell industry to find a cost-effective way to build out an infrastructure that will deliver affordable and clean hydrogen fuel in the U.S.