Toyota’s next-generation fuel cell electric technology, developed at the Toyota Motor North America Research and Development Center in Ann Arbor, is now powering a new set of Class 8 heavy-duty truck prototypes.
Using the same fuel cell system as the 2021 Mirai sedan that goes on sale this month, Toyota R&D engineers have developed a set of production-intent prototype trucks that are being prepared to run drayage routes at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to validate their performance, efficiency, and drivability.
“This is an important step in the transition to emissions-free heavy-duty trucks,” says Andrew Lund, chief engineer at the Toyota Center. “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.”
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 more than 300 miles of range at a full load weight of 80,000 pounds, all while demonstrating exceptional drivability, quiet operation, and zero harmful emissions, according to Toyota.
Reducing airborne pollution at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is a key driver of this program. Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050 aims to almost completely eliminate CO2 emissions from its vehicles, operations, and supply chain by 2050. Converting the drayage trucks that currently serve these ports to electric drivetrains would move the automaker closer to that goal while improving the quality of life of operators, workers, and communities in and around the ports.