Toyota shows fuel-cell has legs with trucking

Toyota has waved its biggest flag yet for the hydrogen fuel-cell alternative to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) with the unveiling of a heavy duty truck boasting a range of more than 300 miles, writes Paul Myles.

Code named Beta, the truck follows on from Toyota’s first Project Portal test vehicle that has been trialed in operations at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles in California since April last year. As well as being able to cover greater distances, Beta is more versatile and maneuverable and is equipped with a sleeper cab and a fuel cabinet combination that frees up more cabin space without increasing the wheelbase.

The original Alpha truck has already logged more than 10,000 miles in testing, emitting nothing other than water vapor. Beta will enter service in the autumn, expecting to increase the ports’ zero emission trucking capacity and further reducing the environmental impact of their haulage operations.

Project Portal 2.0 builds on the experience gained from the launch of the Alpha vehicle. Toyota’s first heavy duty fuel cell electric truck saw engineers and technicians worked reconfiguring wire harnesses, electronics and other components taken from two Mirai fuel cell electric cars to create one of the world’s first OEM-built zero emission heavy trucks.

The Alpha truck has a 36.3-tonne gross combined weight capacity and a driving range of more than 200 miles on a hydrogen fill-up. Two Mirai fuel cell stacks and a 12kW/h battery support output of more than 670 bhp and 1,796 Nm of torque. The new Project Portal Beta maintains these power and torque numbers but with an extended range and improvements in other key performance metrics.

“By evaluating the first truck in our test facilities and on the actual roads in the LA area, we made a list of improvements for the Beta truck build process and performance enhancements,” said chief engineer Andrew Lund. “We needed to move beyond a proof of concept, which the first truck accomplished, to something that is not only better than the original but is also more commercially viable.”

More than 16,000 pollution-emitting trucks service the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, a number that is expected to double by 2030. In ports across the USA, more than 43,000 drayage trucks are working, sending significant amounts of carcinogens, diesel particulates and other substances into the atmosphere.

“Our goal with the first truck was to see if it could be accomplished, and we did that,” said Craig Scott, senior manager for Toyota’s North American Electrified Vehicle and Technologies Office. “This time we’re looking at commercial viability. We want to help make  a significant difference when it comes to the air quality not only in the LA area but across the US and around the globe.”

One comment

  1. Avatar Joji NISHI 20th August 2018 @ 1:33 pm

    It may open positive way for heavy duty fleet to run on clear power plant with only H2O emission.

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