Cleaner engines are next for Kawasaki, Yamaha

To combat climate change, more nations have started to make drastic changes in their respective policies governing fossil fuel-burning engines. In India, for example, they want no 150cc-and-below motorcycles in showrooms come 2025 but only electric motorcycles.

In Indonesia, a total ban on new internal combustion engine (ICE) motorcycles will be in effect by 2050. Similar policies will also be in effect in some European nations, as well as some states in the US.

In Japan, two giant motorcycle manufacturers are thinking out of the box and want to team up to explore other carbon-neutral options to keep ICEs in operation for a longer time, and into the future.

In a recent conference, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (Kawasaki Heavy Industries), Subaru Corporation (Subaru), Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota), Mazda Motor Corporation (Mazda), and Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. (Yamaha Motor) jointly announced that toward the achievement of carbon neutrality, they will take on the challenge of expanding fuel options through the use of internal combustion engines.

Specifically, to further expand options for producing, transporting, and using fuel, the five companies intend to unite and pursue the three initiatives of 1) participating in races using carbon-neutral fuels, 2) exploring the use of hydrogen engines in two-wheeled and other vehicles, and 3) continuing to race using hydrogen engines. Toward achieving carbon neutrality, and in addition to advancing initiatives for electrification, by promoting further collaboration in producing, transporting, and using fuel in combination with internal combustion engines, the five companies aim to provide customers with greater choice.

Kawasaki and Yamaha teaming up to create eco-friendly motorcycles engines image

Since 2010, Kawasaki has been focusing on hydrogen as a next-generation energy source and has been developing technologies for producing, transporting, and using hydrogen throughout the entire supply chain needed to support society. The company is currently conducting verification tests for transporting large-quantity, low-cost hydrogen to Japan produced from Australian lignite. By the end of the fiscal year 2021, it plans to transport hydrogen using its in-house-constructed, first-in-the-world purpose-built liquefied hydrogen carrier, the Suiso Frontier. Also, based on hydrogen combustion technologies cultivated through the creation of the world's first successful urban-area, 100 percent hydrogen-fueled gas turbine power generation technology for which it completed development in 2018, Kawasaki Heavy Industries is developing hydrogen-fueled engines for land, sea, and air mobility applications, such as for aircraft, ships, and two-wheeled vehicles.

Yamaha Motor, on the other hand, is developing hydrogen engine technology for possible use in its two-wheeled vehicles, ROV (four-wheeled recreational off-highway vehicle) series, and other products. To accelerate this technology development, it is preparing to introduce new equipment and is strengthening its in-house development structure.

Kawasaki and Yamaha have started considerations toward the joint development of a hydrogen engine for possible use in two-wheeled vehicles. 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.