Hino Trucks unveiled the XL8 prototype hydrogen fuel cell Class 8 truck it is developing with Toyota Motor Corp. at the ACT Expo in Long Beach, Calif. on Tuesday.
Toyota’s truck building subsidiary is one of two companies working with the automotive giant to roll out fuel cell heavy-duty tractors.
Toyota has spent several years designing a fuel cell heavy-duty truck but previously has relied on Paccar’s Kenworth brand as a vehicle partner. The companies are in the process of building about a dozen trucks for testing in Southern California.
Hino announced its plans to also develop a fuel cell truck in October.
“It’s amazing what our team has been able to accomplish in a relatively short period of time,” said Glenn Ellis, senior vice president of customer experience, Hino Trucks.
“We are looking forward to validating the performance, reliability and efficiency of our hydrogen fuel cell electric system in the XL Series chassis,” Ellis said.
The company said it has “received significant interest from customers” and created the prototype to have a tangible product to show off.
Hino and Toyota also are developing heavy-duty fuel cell trucks for the Japanese market.
Toyota has tapped fuel cell technology it developed for passenger cars as the basis for its heavy-duty hydrogen-fueled truck designs. Most of the testing has taken place in Southern California, which is looking to wean port traffic off of diesel-fueled trucks.
The Los Angeles and Long Beach port complex is the largest trade gateway for containerized cargo in North America. The ports handle 20 percent of all U.S.-bound cargo. But particulate and Co2 emissions from the 16,000 trucks entering and leaving the ports daily are responsible for poor air quality in the port region and along the highways they travel to inland distribution centers. California is pushing truck companies and shippers to reduce pollution and plans to eventually ban diesel trucks.
The automaker will launch a fuel cell module assembly line for hydrogen-powered, heavy-duty commercial trucks at its Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky factory in 2023.
The company said it plans to sell the equipment to truck manufacturers and will provide technical support to customers.
“We’re bringing our proven electric technology to a whole new class of production vehicles,” said Tetsuo Ogawa, president and chief executive officer, Toyota Motor North America. “Heavy-duty truck manufacturers will be able to buy a fully integrated and validated fuel cell electric drive system, allowing them to offer their customers an emissions-free option in the Class 8 heavy-duty segment.”
Both battery electric and fuel cell trucks use electric motors for propulsion and have similar powertrains.
Other companies are looking to tackle Co2 emissions and particulate pollution with battery-electric trucks. Daimler Trucks’ Freightliner division and Volvo both have battery-electric Class 8 trucks working in pilot programs in Southern California.
Fuel cell trucks offer important weight savings and faster fueling over battery-electric trucks but there is a growing debate as to their lifecycle emissions reduction.
Environmental advocacy group Earthjustice released a report Tuesday that said that less than 1 percent of hydrogen today is produced using renewable energy. To be green, hydrogen must be produced from a renewable electricity source such as solar, hydro or wind power.
“Hydrogen isn’t the silver bullet it’s marketed to be. Worse, the deluge of hydrogen hype from fossil fuel companies threatens to delay the clean energy transition by siphoning resources away from solutions like electric appliances and vehicles,” said Sasan Saadat, Earthjustice senior research and policy analyst. “In the future, green hydrogen may help us carry renewable energy into the toughest corners of the energy system, but it’s no substitute for rapidly electrifying the bulk of our economy today.”