July 14, 2024

Japan’s finest engineers create a high-performance H2 side-by-side for Dakar Rally, with supercharged capabilities

Japan’s leading research association, HySE, consisting of prominent automakers Honda, Toyota, and Yamaha, is working on developing a hydrogen internal combustion engine (ICE) powered side-by-side vehicle for the Dakar Rally in 2024. The HySE-X1 aims to showcase the potential of small hydrogen engines in off-road applications.

HySE is a Tokyo-based research association focused on hydrogen small mobility and engine technology. It was formed earlier this year after receiving approval from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The association is exploring the use of small hydrogen engines in various light applications such as motorcycles, boats, compact four-wheelers, and drones. Members of HySE include Honda Motor Co, Kawasaki Motors, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Suzuki Motor Corporation, Toyota Motor Corporation, and Yamaha Motor Co.

A rendered image of the HySE-X1 released recently portrays a side-by-side vehicle adorned with competitive bodywork and a slender central grille. The X1 will be powered by a 1.0-liter four-stroke inline-four hydrogen motorcycle engine, which will be equipped with a supercharger for enhanced power production. The engine will feature liquid cooling to prevent overheating in the harsh desert conditions of the Dakar Rally.

To accommodate the hydrogen fuel tank and fuel supply system, the X1 will be constructed on a chassis developed by Belgium-based off-road motorsport builder, Overdrive Racing. Overdrive Racing will also handle maintenance and hydrogen fueling during the Dakar Rally.

Preliminary estimates suggest that the X1 will weigh around 3,307 lb (1,500 kg) and measure 139 x 81.5 x 67 inches (3,530 x 2,070 x 1,700 mm, L x W x H).

HySE plans to race the X1 in the Mission 1000 Challenge, a segment of the Dakar Future Program that encourages automakers to showcase carbon-neutral powertrain technologies such as electric, biofuel-hybrid, and hydrogen engines. Despite shorter race routes, participants will face the same extreme and challenging conditions that characterize the Dakar Rally. The Mission 1000 will serve as a testing ground for emerging technologies, rather than a competition with winners and losers.

Kenji Komatsu, the chairman of HySE association, and executive officer of Yamaha’s Technical Research & Development Center, expressed his excitement about participating in the Dakar Rally. He highlighted the historical significance of the event and the opportunity it provides to communicate the research results effectively. Additionally, Komatsu emphasized that participating in the rally will enable them to identify potential issues and improve their technology to accelerate the establishment of hydrogen-powered mobility solutions.

Before the Dakar Rally takes place in Saudi Arabia from January 5 to 19, 2024, HySE will unveil a mockup of the HySE-X1 at the Japan Mobility Show this month. Yamaha, another member of HySE, will also showcase a version of its YXZ1000R with a direct-injected hydrogen-burning engine at the show, along with other innovative concepts like a handlebar-free motorcycle design.


  1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
  2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it