Toyota and its truck-making subsidiary Hino have agreed to develop a heavy-duty truck powered by hydrogen fuel cells for the US market. The move expands on a plan by the two companies to develop fuel cell trucks for Japan.
Toyota fuel-cell tech
The new fuel-cell truck will be based around Hino’s existing Hino XL Series chassis and will use developments of the fuel-cell technology that Toyota has created for its new Mirai executive car. The truck will be what Americans technically call a ‘Class 8’ truck, which means a weight greater than 14 tonnes, and usually with three axles for the cab unit. The Hino fuel-cell truck will likely have a weight greater than 25 tonnes.
Rivals from Tesla and Nikola
The first demonstrator version of this new fuel-cell truck is expected to be shown in the first half of 2021, and it comes amid increasing interest in electric power for heavy goods vehicles — Tesla is still working on its all-battery ‘Semi’ model while start-up company Nikola, in spite of recent controversies surrounding its CEO, is continuing to work on its hydrogen fuel-cell models. The great benefit, for trucks, of fuel-cells is that the hydrogen fuel is stored in liquid form, which removes the need for massive, heavy, batteries and which means that such vehicles can be easily and quickly refuelled — assuming a certain quality of hydrogen infrastructure.
Smooth, quiet, and powerful
“A fuel cell powered version of the Hino XL Series is a win-win for both customers and the community. It will be quiet, smooth and powerful while emitting nothing but water,” said Tak Yokoo, Senior Executive Engineer, Toyota Research and Development. “Toyota’s twenty plus years of fuel cell technology combined with Hino’s heavy-duty truck experience will create an innovative and capable product.”
“Expanding upon our proud heritage of the Hino powertrain, Toyota Fuel Cell Technology offers our customers a commercially viable, extended range, zero emissions vehicle in the near term,” said Glenn Ellis, Hino’s Senior Vice President Customer Experience. “Hino shares a common focus with Toyota when it comes to durability, reliability, and innovation with the customer at the centre of design which makes this collaboration a game changer.”