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New Honda Fuel Cell Vehicle Will Be Based on Next-Gen CR-V

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Honda FCV under the hood
Photo: Honda

Honda has announced it will make an all-new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle based on the recently-revealed next-generation 2023 Honda CR-V. The hydrogen variant will go into production next year for the 2024 model year. 

Honda’s manufacturing center in Marysville, Ohio, will build the zero-emission vehicle, contributing to the company’s goal of having conventional battery electric vehicles and FCVs account for 100% of its global auto sales by 2040

Compare Them: How the CR-V stacks up to the competition

It will also be the first FCV in America to combine fuel cell technology with a plug-in feature, enabling drivers to charge the onboard battery like any other BEV instead of relying on a hydrogen refueling station. This is an exciting development that could negate the largest downside of relying on an FCV: the lacking refueling infrastructure.

Spotlighting hydrogen

It should also play a large role in bringing more attention to hydrogen fuel cell technology. The Honda CR-V is the brand’s most popular model; in North America, it ranks as the second bestselling SUV and sixth bestselling vehicle overall. Making the high-profile CR-V available as an FCV can put a major spotlight on the technology’s benefits. 

Indeed, hydrogen FCVs have many of the same upsides as BEVs and virtually none of the downsides. They produce zero emissions, have similar if not superior range, and can be fully refueled in just 3-4 minutes. In contrast, modern BEVs require 30-45 minutes for just an 80% charge at the most capable DC Fast Charging stations or Tesla Superchargers.

2023 Honda CR-V Sport
All-new 2023 Honda CR-V Sport
Photo: Honda

However, the infrastructure is so lacking that FCVs are impossible for Americans to use anywhere outside of Los Angeles and San Francisco, the only U.S. cities that currently have hydrogen refueling stations. While there are plans to expand the infrastructure, it will be a very long time before it can rival that of EV charging stations.

What’s more, BEVs have the advantage of being able to be charged overnight via a home charger. This is a commuter’s dream, as it is possible for drivers who only travel short and medium distances to never have to visit a public station. 

Best of both worlds?

The next-gen Honda CR-V FCV would combine the best of both worlds by giving drivers the ability to get into a fully-charged ride every morning while still having the long-range and short-refueling capability that hydrogen permits. This should greatly reduce the range anxiety that is still chilling shopper’s enthusiasm for all-electric vehicles. 

The industry has criticized Toyota for doubling down on hydrogen as part of its long-term hydrogen strategy, but the technology is gaining momentum. The Honda Clarity was the evolution of Honda’s first attempt at a fuel cell sedan, and while sales were poor, that hasn’t stopped the automaker from trying again in a much bigger fashion with the CR-V. General Motors and Bosch are also investing heavily in hydrogen. BMW recently announced it was teaming up with Toyota to make new FCVs in the mid-2020s. 

“As we accelerate our plan to produce Honda battery EVs in the United States, we also will begin low volume production of fuel cell electric vehicles there to further explore their great potential as part of a sustainable transportation future,” said Gary Robinson, vice president, American Honda Motor.