Toyota Advances Fuel Cell Truck Technology

The next generation of Toyota's fuel cell electric technology will power Kenworth T680 Class 8 trucks set for use in drayage operations in California.

Toyota Motor North America Research & Development (TMNA R&D)
Toyota Next Gen F34
Toyota Motor North America

Toyota’s next generation fuel cell electric technology is now powering a new set of Class 8 heavy-duty trucks. Using the same fuel cell system as the all-new 2021 Mirai sedan that goes on sale in December 2020, the engineers at Toyota Motor North America Research and Development (TMNA R&D) have developed a set of production-intent prototype trucks that are being prepared to run drayage routes at the ports of L.A. and Long Beach to validate their performance, efficiency and drivability. 

Designed to be flexible enough to meet the needs of a wide variety of OEM truck makers, the new fuel cell electric system in the latest prototypes has been adapted to a Kenworth T680 chassis. A more compact hydrogen storage cabinet behind the cab houses six hydrogen tanks with the same capacity as previous prototypes while a new, more powerful lithium-ion battery helps smooth out the power flow to the electric motors. In this configuration, the second generation fuel cell system delivers over 300 miles of range at a full load weight of 80,000 lbs., all while demonstrating exceptional drivability, quiet operation, and zero harmful emissions.

“This is an important step in the transition to emissions-free heavy-duty trucks,” said Andrew Lund, Chief Engineer, Toyota Motor North America Research and Development. “Our first prototype trucks proved that a fuel cell electric powertrain was capable of hauling heavy cargo on a daily basis. These new prototypes not only use production-intent hardware, they will also allow us to start looking beyond drayage into broader applications of this proven technology.”

Reducing airborne pollution at the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach is an important driver of this program. Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050 aims to almost completely eliminate CO2 emissions from our vehicles, operations and supply chain by 2050. Converting the drayage trucks that currently serve these ports to electric drivetrains would move us closer to that goal while improving the quality of life of operators, workers, and communities in and around the ports.

Toyota delivers first fuel cell powered electric trucks 

The first two fuel cell electric heavy-duty Class 8 trucks built under the Zero and Near Zero Emissions Freight Forwarding (ZANZEFF) project sponsored by the state of California are preparing for delivery to demonstration fleet customers.

Toyota Logistics Services and Southern Counties Express each will receive a Kenworth T680 Class 8 truck powered by a Toyota fuel cell electric drivetrain. Both of these zero-emissions trucks will be used for drayage operations in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“We have been involved with Toyota’s hydrogen truck project since the beginning and we are excited to see the latest models now being released for further testing,” said Gordon Reimer, President, Southern Counties Express. “We are proud to be associated with the Toyota research and development team, and look forward to the continued progress of this technology.”

An additional eight trucks will be delivered in 2021 as part of the ZANZEFF program. Three of the eight trucks will go to United Parcel Service for its port operations while two of the eight trucks will go to Total Transportation Services, another prominent port operator. Toyota Logistics Services will also receive three additional trucks.

“After extensive testing with our proof-of-concept prototypes, we’re ready for the next step of putting more trucks into drayage operations,” said Lund. “Moving toward emissions-free trucks is more important than ever, and the ZANZEFF project has been instrumental in getting us closer to that goal.”

Development of the Kenworth T680 FCEV is part of a $41 million ZANZEFF grant awarded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), with the Port of Los Angeles as the prime applicant. CARB has awarded those funds to the Port of Los Angeles for the ZANZEFF project as part of California Climate Investments, a California initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment.

“The Port is currently engaged in 16 different zero-emission demonstration projects to support development of on-road trucks that we expect will help bring feasible zero-emission technology to the marketplace,” said Chris Cannon, Chief Sustainability Officer for the Port of Los Angeles. “Conversion of the Port drayage fleet to zero-emission technology involves tremendous financial investment and will take the collaboration and commitment of many stakeholders – both public and private – to create a viable market for zero-emissions drayage technology. We are proud of our continuing partnership under this project to deploy these trucks as an important step in verifying the capabilities and role of hydrogen fuel cell technology in the path to zero emissions.”

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