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Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell transport trucks put to work in Port of LA


Toyota has begun using their hydrogen fuel cell truck to run short-haul drayage routes at the Port of Los Angeles in an effort to reduce harmful emissions.

The hydrogen fuel truck generates no local emissions, has 670 horsepower, and an 80,000-pound total weight capacity. The powertrain includes two of Toyota’s Mirai fuel cells, and a 12kWh battery charged by the cells, according to Tech Crunch.

The trucks will be used to transport goods from the Port of LA and Long Beach to local rail yards and warehouses for distribution. A single truck’s estimated daily trips will be around 200 miles total. The shorter routes are designed to aid emission studies by testing duty-cycle capabilities of the fuel cell system.

This plan was originally announced last year, but now Toyota’s vision is coming to life.

Rather than expel harmful emissions, Toyota’s hydrogen fuel truck only emits water vapor. It wasn’t until recently that fuel using hydrogen has been advanced enough to power a vehicle for the required range with adequate performance.

This initial test of hydrogen fuel trucks is designed to evaluate what the impact of frequent cycling of fuel cell systems will do to the fuel packs. Toyota wants to know how often can the hydrogen packs can be refueled and how often.

Later, Toyota has plans to conduct longer runs.

Hydrogen fuel cells have been in development in the US since 2015 as Toyota created its hydrogen-powered Mirai sedan – which has not been a widely popular car to own.

Similarly, Toyota plans to sell buses powered by hydrogen cells in Tokyo this year, just in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics, according to The Verge. 

Toyota is rivaled by the Nikola Motor company and their class 8 heavy-duty hydrogen-electric hybrid truck.

This truck is also obviously powered by fuel cells. It was reported, “the Salt Lake City-based startup claims its H2-powered truck will have an operational range of as much as 1,200 miles when it’s released in 2020.”

Further, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has called hydrogen power “incredibly dumb”, “extremely silly”, “mind-bogglingly stupid,” and finally, “bulls–t”.

Telsa plans to unveil their fully electric truck in November, so it is no surprise that Musk would not be a huge supporter of hydrogen power.

Only time will tell of the effectiveness of driving short routes in Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell transport trucks, and the impact that these low emission vehicles will have on the environment.

If you want to learn more about fuel cells and heavy-duty trucks, check out the 2017 Fuel Cell Seminar & Energy Exposition taking place on November 7-9, 2017, in Long Beach, California. For more information click here.


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