Supercharged H2 side-x-side developed by Japan's best guns for Dakar
HySE, a Japanese research association that includes some of the country's best and brightest in hydrogen engines and off-roading, such as Honda, Toyota and Yamaha, is preparing a hydrogen ICE-powered side-by-side for debut at Dakar 2024. The all-new HySE-X1 will look to help prove the viability of small hydrogen engine development as it sprints and crawls its way toward off-road immortality.
The X1 will become one of the first tangible developments from the HySE, the "Hydrogen Small mobility and Engine technology" research association. The Tokyo-headquartered association was announced earlier this year after approval from Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and is exploring the potential for small hydrogen engine use in light applications like motorcycles, boats, compact four-wheelers and drones. Member companies are Honda Motor Co, Kawasaki Motors, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Suzuki Motor Corporation, Toyota Motor Corporation and Yamaha Motor Co.
The initial HySE-X1 rendering released today shows a side-by-side that strays quite far from the Lexus polish of the hydrogen-engined ROV concept, instead wearing livery-splashed competitive bodywork that covers its wide-open front-end with only a slim central grille. The X1 is set to be powered by a 1.0-liter four-stroke inline-four hydrogen motorcycle engine hooked to a supercharger for more efficient power production. Liquid cooling will be tasked with keeping it from overheating out in the furious, exposed desert.
The X1's engine will be housed inside a chassis being developed by Belgium off-road motorsport builder Overdrive Racing. The architecture will be specially adapted for carrying the hydrogen fuel tank and fuel supply system. Overdrive will also handle maintenance and hydrogen fueling during Dakar.
Initial estimates put the X1 at 3,307 lb (1,500 kg) and 139 x 81.5 x 67 inches (3,530 x 2,070 x 1,700 mm, L x W x H)
HySE will race the X1 in the new Mission 1000 Challenge, a part of the Dakar Future Program that invites automakers to compete with experimental carbon-neutral powertrain technologies like electrics, biofuel-hybrids and hydrogen engines. While race routes are shorter than the main event, participants will still face the same harsh, unforgiving conditions that have given the rally a reputation for being the most dangerous, challenging race in motorsport. The Mission 1000 will operate as more of a test bed, without establishing winners or losers.
"We have decided to participate in the Dakar Rally, which we know has a rich history and tradition," said Kenji Komatsu, HySE association chairman and executive officer of Yamaha's Technical Research & Development Center. "Our main reason for participating is to give us the chance to communicate the results of our research in a way that’s easy to understand. Also, by participating in the event, we can identify potential issues and refine our technology to solve the technical themes required for the establishment of hydrogen small mobilities as soon as possible."
Before heading to Dakar in Saudi Arabia between January 5 and 19, 2024, HySE will show a mockup of the HySE-X1 at this month's Japan Mobility Show. The X1 won't be the only hydrogen-engined side-by-side at the show, as HySE member Yamaha announced last week that it will show a version of its YXZ1000R with direct-injected hydrogen-burning engine within what promises to be an impressive exhibit loaded with fascinating innovations, including a snaking, handlebar-free motorcycle concept.