Four major motorcycle makers in Japan said Wednesday they will jointly develop hydrogen-powered engines, with an eye to launching them on two-wheelers and other means of transportation in the future.

Honda Motor Co., Kawasaki Motors Ltd., Suzuki Motor Corp. and Yamaha Motor Co. said they will set up next month an organization dedicated to such research and development, in line with Japan's policy to promote hydrogen as a next-generation energy source that produces only water as an emission when used as fuel.

The move comes amid tightening regulations on gasoline-powered vehicles and a growing shift to electric vehicles worldwide.

Japanese motorcycle makers, which have traditionally been competitive in the area of internal combustion engines, are trying to promote hydrogen as an alternative option as they utilize existing engines, unlike all-electric models.

"Hydrogen is a type of next-generation clean energy that has a huge potential," Yamaha President Yoshihiro Hidaka said at a press conference.

Toyota Motor Corp., which has been developing hydrogen engine cars, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., equipped with the know-how in transporting liquid hydrogen, will also join the organization as special members.

The organization, called the Hydrogen Small mobility & Engine technology Association, will invite makers in the United States and Europe to join it in promoting hydrogen-powered vehicles worldwide.

The organization is also considering installing such engines on minivehicles, small boats and drones.

The four companies said there are no hydrogen engine motorcycles worldwide due to the technical difficulty of building such vehicles, as hydrogen is more inflammable than gasoline and two-wheelers have limited room for engines and fuel tanks.

Executives of Kawasaki Motors Co., Suzuki Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., and Yamaha Motor Co. pose for photos at a press conference in Tokyo on May 17, 2023. (Kyodo)

The association will collaborate in the basic research for hydrogen-powered engines, while the decision to develop products for commercial use will be up to each company.

Although there has been a rapid shift toward electric models, Hidaka said it is important to have a broad range of green vehicles to better reduce carbon emissions.