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Honda, Isuzu power up fuel cell partnership for heavy-duty trucks

Tokyo

JAPAN'S Honda Motor Co and Isuzu Motors Ltd on Wednesday said they would jointly research the use of hydrogen fuel cells to power heavy-duty trucks, looking to expand fuel cell use by applying the zero-emission technology to larger vehicles.

As part of a two-year deal, Isuzu will test Honda's fuel cell powertrain, which was designed for passenger cars, in Isuzu's commercial trucks, the companies said, which could pave the way for using the technology in a wider range of vehicles.

Automakers are looking to develop more electric vehicles (EVs) to comply with tightening global emissions regulations. Many see battery-powered EVs as a solution for passenger cars in urban settings, but a growing number see hydrogen fuel cells as an effective way to power trucks, buses and other big vehicles.

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"Although we have done extensive R&D into passenger FCVs (fuel cell vehicles), we have not been able to study how best to apply the technology to commercial vehicles," a Honda spokesman said. "This partnership will allow us to do that."

Fuel cell vehicles generate their own electricity using hydrogen stored in onboard tanks. This enables them to travel longer distances and refuel more quickly than battery EVs, while using less costly energy storage systems.

"We think that FCV technology is well suited for heavier trucks which travel longer distances, and this partnership will enable us to examine this further," an Isuzu spokeswoman said.

The partnership is the latest in a growing trend among vehicle makers joining forces to compete better in an industry upended by the rise of electric vehicles, self-driving cars and other new technologies.

Honda and Isuzu are reviving their vehicle partnership following an agreement in the early l990s under which Isuzu manufactured sport- utility vehicles for Honda in the North American market. REUTERS