Toyota said Thursday it plans to begin testing of its zero-emissions hydrogen fuel cell-powered semi truck around ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach. The Project Portal proof-of-concept rig will haul goods from select terminals at the two busy ports to nearby rail yards and warehouses for distribution starting Oct. 23, with an estimated daily distance of around 200 miles, the truck's driving range.
The company in April announced it was experimenting with the fuel cell trucks at the Port of Los Angeles to test its technology and benefit the port's Clean Air Action Plan. The truck uses two Mirai fuel cell stacks and a 12-kWh battery to generate more than 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound-feet of torque. You can watch a video here that shows how that configuration helps the truck move fro a dead stop compared to a traditional diesel-powered version. The truck's gross combined weight capacity is 80,000 pounds.
Toyota says the class 8 truck has completed more than 4,000 successful development miles, while pulling drayage rated cargo weight and emitting nothing but water vapor. The new testing route patterns are designed to test the drayage duty-cycle capabilities of the fuel cell system and capture real-world performance data, with the routes eventually growing longer in distance.
Heavy duty trucks, which are major sources of diesel exhaust emissions, are a hot area of alternative-powertrain development. Elon Musk has been teasing a new, if oft-delayed, all-electric version of a Tesla rig, while electric trucks are also under development by Cummins and Mercedes-Benz. Nikola Motor Co. is developing a hydrogen-powered rig that it boasts has a 1,200-mile range.
A year ago, Brian Williams of Toyota's product sales and engagement team told AutoblogGreen that the company sees plenty of uses for the technology:
"Fuel cells could potentially give you the range you want, the power output you want, but they can be put into buses. They can be put into semis. You can put those in cargo and package vans. You can put those in buses. [Hydrogen power] is definitely something that we see as meeting the needs of longer range, quicker refueling, lower footprint of emissions. The benefit of it is that it can go in other vehicles."
Toyota has also developed its own fuel cell transit bus that uses the fuel cell system originally developed for the Mirai. It says it plans to deploy more than 100 fuel-cell buses in the Tokyo area ahead of that city's 2020 Olympic games. The company has long been keen on hydrogen as a power source for vehicles, including plug-in electrics.