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Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell trucks are now moving goods around the Port of LA

Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell trucks are now moving goods around the Port of LA


The only emission is water vapor

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A concept version of Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell truck is running short-haul drayage routes at the Port of Los Angeles as part of a feasibility study, which figures in to the port’s efforts to reduce harmful emissions.

The truck will move goods from select Port of LA and Long Beach terminals to surrounding rail yards and warehouses for distribution. Toyota estimates the vehicle’s daily trips will total around 200 miles — short, frequent route patterns designed to test the duty-cycle capabilities of the fuel cell system. As the study progresses, longer haul routes will be introduced. 

daily trips will total around 200 miles

Toyota unveiled its plan to build a fleet of heavy-duty, zero-emission, hydrogen fuel cell trucks last April. The concept truck generates more than 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound-feet of torque from two Mirai fuel cell stacks and a 12kWh battery. Its gross combined weight capacity is 80,000 pounds.

Hydrogen fuel cells — which use compressed hydrogen as their fuel and release only water vapor as an emission — have been in development for decades, but only recently have they attained performance and range numbers good enough to replace an average driver's gasoline-powered car.

That said, hydrogen hasn’t taken off as a propulsion technology due to severe shortage in fueling stations. Experts predict that commercial vehicles, like trucks and forklifts, could benefit more from hydrogen, thanks to access to centralized, industrial fueling stations at ports or warehouses.

Toyota has more experience with fuel cell vehicles than most automakers. The automaker began selling its hydrogen-powered Mirai sedan in the US in 2015, but recent reports suggest the company has only sold several hundred units. Toyota has said it plans to sell buses powered by hydrogen fuel cells in Tokyo this year, in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

And Toyota isn’t alone in pursuing zero-emission big rigs. Nikola Motor Company recently unveiled a huge class 8 truck that's powered by hydrogen fuel cells. 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.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk, who has called hydrogen power “incredibly dumb,” “extremely silly,” “mind-bogglingly stupid,” and most succinctly, “bullshit,” will be unveiling an electric battery-powered semi truck in November.