In an audacious bid to revolutionize the automotive landscape, five Japanese automakers – Toyota, Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha – have joined forces to establish the Hydrogen Small mobility & Engine technology (HySE) Research Association.
Their ambitious goal? To develop a groundbreaking hydrogen-powered 1.0-liter engine, challenging the dominance of battery-electric powertrains in the passenger car segment. This innovative collaboration is poised to bring a new wave of clean energy solutions to the forefront.
The HySE association is not merely content with theorizing about hydrogen engine capabilities; they’re gearing up to showcase their technological prowess in the most extreme conditions. Their inaugural hydrogen motor, the HySE-X1, is set to compete in the “Mission 1000” Challenge of the 2024 Dakar Rally, a grueling test of endurance and performance. This mission is part of the Dakar Future Program, which encourages automakers to push the boundaries of carbon-neutral powertrain technologies, including hydrogen engines and electric or biofuel hybrids.
By entering the HySE-X1 into the demanding Dakar Rally, the association aims to stress-test its hydrogen engine in one of the world’s toughest motorsports events. This real-world challenge offers a unique opportunity to study how hydrogen technology performs under harsh environmental conditions, revealing any potential shortcomings that need addressing. This knowledge will be instrumental in refining small-scale hydrogen mobility and accelerating the development of baseline hydrogen engine technology for everyday passenger cars.
The HySE-X1, which will be vying for glory in the Dakar Rally’s “Mission 1000” Challenge, is built around a specialized chassis designed by HySE partner company Overdrive Racing. This framework features a modified layout to accommodate a hydrogen fuel tank and a fuel supply system, ingeniously repurposing existing racing technology.
Powering the HySE-X1 is a liquid-cooled 1.0-liter, four-stroke, in-line four-cylinder supercharged engine, originally derived from a motorcycle. While specific power and performance figures are still shrouded in secrecy, the mere idea of a hydrogen-powered beast prepared to take on one of motorsport’s most grueling events is nothing short of thrilling.
The vehicle itself is a compact marvel, measuring 3,530mm in length, 2,070mm in width, and 1,700mm in height. Surprisingly, it tips the scales at 1,500kg, which is roughly equivalent to the weight of an average hatchback carrying passengers.
As a glimpse into the future of clean mobility, the HySE association plans to unveil a mockup of the HySE-X1 at the Japan Mobility Show in October. This showcase offers a tantalizing preview of the prototype and its groundbreaking propulsion technologies. Auto enthusiasts and sustainability advocates alike eagerly await more information about this trailblazing endeavor.
The HySE-X1 represents a bold stride toward a world where hydrogen power goes beyond the theoretical and enters the realm of practicality. The outcome of this audacious experiment at the Dakar Rally could well shape the future of clean energy in the automotive industry.