Yamaha Motor Corp. unveiled the world's first hydrogen-powered outboard earlier this month, along with a prototype fuel system integrated into a vessel that the company plans to refine for testing later this year. The effort is part of Yamaha's strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by deploying multiple technology solutions.

Yamaha collaborated with Roush CleanTech to develop the fuel system for the new outboard and partnered with boatbuilder Regulator Marine to construct a suitable vessel for testing the prototype outboard. Together, the companies plan to begin testing the prototype for viability on the water in the summer of 2024.

“Yamaha is exploring all possibilities to achieve carbon neutrality, and we’ve made commitments for our operations to be carbon neutral by 2035 and our products to become carbon neutral by 2050,” Ben Speciale, Yamaha's U.S. marine business unit president, said in a statement. “That goal within the marine market can only be reached through an approach that leverages multiple solutions. We believe hydrogen is a viable method of achieving these goals.”

By working with Roush on the fuel system engineering, Yamaha benefits from over two decades of hydrogen systems integration and research.

“When you look at Roush’s history with hydrogen, it ranges from land speed record vehicles to spacecraft. A lot of that knowledge we’ve acquired over the years we are now applying directly to this Yamaha project,” said Matt Van Benschoten, vice president of advanced engineering at Roush. “We are the fuel systems integrator, responsible for fuel systems designs, all of the specifications development, physical integration, safety system analysis as well as testing and development. Yamaha is trying to determine if hydrogen can successfully be used in this market, and I think we will find out the answer is ‘yes.’”

Regulator Marine adapted the 26XO hull to accommodate the hydrogen tanks needed to power the new outboard. Together at this year’s Miami Boat Show, Yamaha, Regulator, and Roush showcased the boat hull, fuel system, and outboard to demonstrate hydrogen's potential as a marine fuel source and to begin establishing marine standards for hydrogen use in vessels.

"Innovation starts by asking questions. In the future, as we design boats, if this proves what we think it will, it could be very possible that we are designing hulls around these hydrogen fuel tanks,” Joan Maxwell, president, Regulator Marine, said.

Yamaha announced the hydrogen outboard project last December and revealed plans to acquire all shares of electric outboard company Torqeedo.


Ben Hayden is a Maine resident who grew up in the shipyards of northern Massachusetts. He can be reached at (207) 842-5430 and [email protected].