Suzuki Looks to a Fuel Cell Powered Motorcycle Future

Electric vehicles are all the rage at the moment and according to a new report from Bloomberg, electric cars will comprise 35% of all new vehicle sales by 2040. But around the turn of last century, the next big thing in transportation was supposed to fuel cell cars – or cars powered by simple hydrogen. Suzuki has just filed new patents showing they’re still keen on the idea.

In a nutshell, a fuel cell vehicle uses electricity created by oxygen and compressed hydrogen to power an electric motor. The reason that hydrogen powered vehicles haven’t caught on is that like conventionally powered cars, they require refueling and the infrastructure required hasn’t been developed. Instead, fuel cell cars have been leapfrogged by electric charging stations on the road and at home.

While fuel cells are a promising technology, they’re lagging behind battery technology where all the money and therefore development has gone. But that’s not to say it’s a dead-end and there are definite benefits to the idea of fuel cell equipped motorcycles.

The latest patents from Suzuki show a scooter, similar in appearance to the Bergman and it discusses the options of both air cooled and water cooled fuel cells. This is by no means the first time Suzuki has shown an interest in the technology – way back in 2007 they unveiled the Crosscage – a futuristic looking hydrogen powered machine. Since then, they’ve filed numerous patents on fuel cell powered motorcycle and scooters showing the technology is available and capable – it’s just that the infrastructure is lagging well behind.

It was expected that Suzuki may actually put a fuel cell powered scooter into production last year, although any such mass production of a hydrogen sipping motorcycle or scooter is realistically a while away yet – especially when electric cars and motorcycles are making such massive leaps in capability each year.

suzuki fuel cell scooter

Suzuki Working on Electric and Hydrogen Powered Motorcycles

While Suzuki’s current range certainly isn’t cutting edge when it comes to technological gadgetry, they appear to be very keen at being at the forefront of drive train technology. Not only are they well on their way to releasing a production version of the turbocharged Suzuki Recursion concept, but recent patent filings show that the smallest of the Japanese manufacturers is working on both an electric motorcycle and a hydrogen fuel cell powered dirt bike.

This isn’t the first patent registered by Suzuki for a fuel cell powered bike. Way back in 2007, Suzuki showed off their hydrogen powered concept called the Crosscage. Then, in 2010 Suzuki has actually produced a hydrogen powered Burgman for real world testing. The patent diagrams indicate that the fuel cell, motor and hydrogen tank are exactly the same as the Burgman proof of concept scooter. The configuration is slightly different with the hydrogen tank mounted vertically instead of horizontally and the electric motor beneath it.

The hydrogen powered Suzuki Burgman concept was good for an impressive 200 miles and could be refueled in five minutes – all without a drastic increase in weight from a conventional scooter.

The more recent patent filing pertains to a battery powered electric motorcycle that appears to be Honda Grom like in size. The patent details are fairly innocuous in that there’s no really radical new ideas here, but a small sized electric bike sounds like a great way to introduce a battery powered machine to the mass market.

Again, this isn’t a first for Suzuki. The patent images seem to be very closely related to their Extrigger concept from late 2013. The Extrigger’s electric drive train was actually borrowed from the earlier Suzuki e-Let electric scooter.

So if Suzuki are filing updated patents on a nearly two year old concept, does that mean the Extrigger concept is going into production? Given the popularity of the Honda Grom, we can only hope so.