Toyota Motor Corp. is expanding its U.S. hydrogen fuel cell heavy-duty truck program, unveiling a utility tractor rig designed to pull cargo containers at ports.
The automaker showed the truck at the Fuel Cell Seminar and Energy Exposition in Long Beach on Wednesday.
The vehicle marks the second commercial vehicle demonstration of fuel cell technology by Toyota in the U.S. Its Project Portal program is developing a hydrogen truck in the heaviest Class 8 weight segment.
The prototype, known as “UNO,” made its first drive at the Fenix Marine Services container terminal at the Port of Los Angeles last month. The expo was its first public showing.
“The UNO deployment demonstrates how cutting-edge environmental technology and maritime operations are not mutually exclusive,” said Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.
Toyota said the UNO would test how zero-emission container handling equipment could operate in a real-world, marine terminal environment. Fenix’s terminal handles more than 1 million containers per year
“We view the hydrogen fuel cell electric UTR Uno as an expansion of our Project Portal hydrogen fuel cell electric Class 8 heavy-duty truck development,” said Andrew Lund, chief engineer, product development, Toyota Motor North America Research and Development.
Fenix said the truck has the potential to slash emissions from its operations.
“This deployment is hopefully the first of many zero and near-zero emissions platforms throughout the facility,” said Scott Schoenfeld, general manager of Fenix’s terminal development group.
Toyota is using the same modular fuel cell system that goes into the Mirai passenger car to power the UNO. It also is what the company uses for the Project Portal trucks. The hydrogen fuel provides quicker refueling time than battery-electric options. The first UNO test cycle at Fenix ran for 2.5 hours per trial and consumed one fill of its two hydrogen tanks. Toyota said it could add more tanks to increase the range.
In its Project Portal program, Toyota is providing fuel cell electric powertrains for a collaboration with truck builder Kenworth. They are building 10 zero-emission Class 8 trucks. The project is part of a $41 million Zero and Near-Zero Emissions Freight Facilities grant from the California Air Resources Board. The vehicles will be used at the Port of Los Angeles/Port of Long Beach complex, primarily moving containers to and from California’s Inland Empire region about 70 miles away.
Hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrains are starting to gain the interest of the trucking industry.
Hyundai Motor Co. unveiled a hydrogen fuel cell truck and trailer combo at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta last month. The South Korean automaker showcased its HDC-6 Neptune Concept Class 8 heavy-duty truck. The truck builds on the fuel cell work Hyundai has developed for its Tucson and Nexo passenger vehicles and signals where the company wants to go with green transport.
The Art Deco streamliner railway trains that ran from 1936 until 1959 inspired the styling of the Neptune Concept. It already has an agreement to sell 1,600 of a different fuel cell truck in Switzerland. One executive said it would take five years to develop the technology for the Neptune truck fully.
Nikola Motor Co., a Phoenix, Ariz., startup, plans highway testing of its hydrogen fuel cell semi-tractor next year. Bud brewer Anheuser-Busch will test Nikola trucks in its fleet. The beer company plans to buy 800 Nikola trucks for its fleet of long-haul delivery vehicles.
Shipping giant UPS also is testing hydrogen fuel cell delivery trucks.