Much like the increased competition for electric pickups is heating up, the same is happening with Class 8 trucks with Toyota Motor North America confirming it’s jumping into the North American market with truck maker Hino USA with a fuel-cell electric truck.
The two companies showed a version of a fuel-cell-powered Class 8 back in March, but it was for the Japanese market. However, with more and more companies looking to grow the market in North America, the two sides were compelled to jump in.
The first demonstration truck is expected to be ready in the first half of 2021, Toyota said, noting the company will use a newly developed Hino XL Series chassis paired with a Toyota fuel cell to put the truck on the road.
“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 20 plus years of fuel cell technology combined with Hino’s heavy-duty truck experience will create an innovative and capable product.”
This new truck, at least the Japanese version, is a 25-ton truck using Toyota’s FC stack that has been developed for the next-gen Mirai, and an AC synchronous electric motor move the rig. Using a lithium-ion battery, it’ll travel nearly 375 miles, or 600 kilometers on a single charge.
“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 center of design which makes this collaboration a game changer.”
Fuel-cell Class 8 trucks as well as battery-electric big rigs have been in the spotlight lately for reasons good and bad. The Nikola One, which according to short-selling research firm Hindenburg Research, isn’t functional and uses technology developed by others.
On the positive side, Tesla Inc. is readying to begin manufacturing its battery-powered truck in the near future, with production occurring at its soon-to-be-built plant near Austin, Texas. Daimler and Volvo has been partnering on fuel-cell truck development as well.
Toyota’s been working with fuel-cell rigs for a few years now, most recently teaming with truckmaker Paccar to build and test 10 hydrogen fuel-cell powered rigs at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.
The carmaker previously partnered with Paccar and its Kenworth brand to field a prototype hydrogen truck that has spent the last year at the L.A. ports. They now will update the technology and use it for an expanded fleet of 10 prototypes.