It's been a minute since we heard anything about Honda's hydrogen ambitions, but the automaker is still, well, ambitious. A fuel-cell CR-V is coming for 2024 and camouflaged prototypes have been spotted in Japan and the US, where it will be offered for sale.
We use the word camouflage loosely in this case, at least for the SUV caught on camera in Japan. Posted on X (formerly Twitter) by TW MC, a CR-V-sized vehicle was found in a parking lot wearing a bright blue body wrap. The face is different from the current model; there are large corner vents in the fascia and it rocks a split grille design with the upper portion being nearly as thin as the CR-V headlights. Honda makes no attempt to hide its bold badge.
The backside is also a bit different, notably due to a lack of exhaust outlets. That's how we know this is a fuel-cell vehicle, and also, the word hydrogen is splayed across the body wrap. We love it when automakers make things easy for us.
The US sighting comes from another X user named Oscar, who caught a test vehicle in California. Sadly, images here aren't nearly as clear or up-close, and the SUV is dressed in swirl camo. But, we can still see the same front fascia with the split grille. And with the current-generation CR-V having debuted for the 2023 model year, this almost certainly isn't a mid-cycle refresh.
It's worth mentioning that, though we're labeling this the CR-V right now, that may not be the actual name. When Honda announced plans to build this fuel-cell SUV, the automaker was keen to say it's based on the CR-V. That said, now that we've seen prototypes in public, there's no doubt the ties run very close to the popular people mover. In profile it looks just like a CR-V, and this size fits as well. A Honda CR-V Clarity perhaps? Time will tell.
Gallery: 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid
Moreover, this electric SUV won't simply run on hydrogen. Honda stated its new fuel cell will also have plug-in capability to charge a battery like a traditional EV. The size of the battery and its range are as yet unknown, but in theory, it will help curb hydrogen anxiety in a world where a hydrogen refueling infrastructure is virtually non-existent. Given the immense costs of building that infrastructure, it could remain that way for some time.
That isn't stopping Honda from charging forward in the hydrogen world. The fuel cell for the CR-V has double the durability at one-third the cost of the system used in the Clarity. It's co-developed with General Motors, and earlier this year, Honda mentioned working on a future fuel cell system that further improved on the one that hasn't debuted yet. Ambitious, indeed.
Honda is committed to bringing its hydrogen fuel cell CR-V – or whatever it's called – to market in 2024. The fuel cell powertrain will be manufactured at Honda's plant in Ohio, with the SUV sold in Japan and North America.