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Yamaha Boss Downplays Hydrogen

Eric de Seynes, Yamaha’s European President and Chairman of its supervisory board, has downplayed the potential role of hydrogen as an alternative fuel for bikes, highlighting the many practical difficulties.

“Hydrogen is obviously a next-generation technology, but it requires a lot of energy (to produce),” he said when interviewed by Motorcycle News. “So until the world is producing more energy, cleaner energy, green energy, hydrogen is a dream. We know how to make a scooter run with hydrogen, how it works and how we can manage it. But to make it real for our customers is another story.” He added that hydrogen needs three times the space of petrol for storage and if kept in liquid form needs to be cryogenically stored.

However, Yamaha is still pursuing the hydrogen option as one of a number of possibilities, Eric de Seynes pointing to the consortium with Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki, pooling resources in this area…

He was more positive about the future of synthetic fuels, though another study by UK clean transport group Transport & Environment, says that these ‘e-fuels’ have four times less energy density than batteries.

The bottom line is that Yamaha, like all other major motorcycle manufacturers, is researching a number of alternative fuels, because it’s not yet clear how the bike of the 2040s will be powered. “In parallel we are developing new technologies,” de Seynes told MCN. “It could be hydrogen, it could be electricity. If there is a breakthrough that can be achieved, especially with batteries, then suddenly it will be OK to bet on it for the next 50 years.”

Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, thought that although the future was uncertain, there was plenty of life in petrol yet. “The BMF is keeping its options open on fuel developments, just like Yamaha and the rest of the Manufacturers appear to be doing. Only last month Honda announced that they had developed new ICE bikes, which they are planning to produce, along with the battery/electric range. Given the many problems currently [sorry, about that…] being encountered with the mass adoption of battery/electric vehicles, this pragmatic approach seems to be an ‘each way’ bet.”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image courtesy of Kawasaki