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Toyota's heavy-duty fuel cell truck project is moving from alpha to beta



In 2017, we looked at the project portal, Toyota's plan to test an emissions-free heavy-duty truck at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, California. The idea was to run an 80,000 lb (36,288 kg) Class 8 lorry with hydrogen fuel cells and then transport it on board one of the busiest ports in the United States. Now Toyota has taken the lessons he learned from 10,000 miles of hard work as a drayage truck and built a second-generation vehicle with even more range.

The first truck, known as Alpha, used a pair of development drives from the Mirai sedan in series. This gave him 670 hp (500 kW), 1,356 Nm (1,256 ft-lbs) and a range of 200 miles (321 km). Although Toyota has not increased the capacity of the 12 kWh lithium-ion batteries on the new beta truck, it has managed to increase that range by 50 percent to more than 482 km (500 miles) between refueling. Beta has the same performance and torque performance as its predecessor.

The second-generation truck now has a sleeper cab and a revised hydrogen fuel storage system that releases more interior space without the need for a longer wheelbase. Toyota says beta is more agile than the previous Alpha truck.

"By evaluating the first truck in our test facilities and on the actual roads in the LA area, we've made a list of improvements to the beta truck construction process, including performance improvements," said Andrew Lund, chief engineer for the project. "We had to go beyond a proof-of-concept that the first truck made, to something that is not only better than the original, but also more economically viable."

Toyota notes in its press release that more than 16,000 trucks are in operation at both ports in Southern California. And the short range of these large vehicles means they are suitable for emission-free powertrains. As with electric buses and hybrid garbage trucks, the daily work cycles are associated with plenty of start-stop operation – good for regenerative braking – and plenty of idling. And there is no need to build an extensive refueling infrastructure as the trips are spread over a relatively small geographical area. Replacing existing vehicle fleets with dirty diesel vehicles with those that emit nothing but water would certainly be a good thing in terms of local air quality.

Picture of the Toyota entry


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