Toyota Tests Hydrogen Fuel Cell on Semi Truck

Apr 20, 2017 07:51 AM EDT | Yen Palec

Many believe that as the mainstream car industry slowly embraces electric powertrains, the need for an equally powerful battery pack is just as important. Recently, Japanese automaker Toyota announced that it is testing its hydrogen fuel cell technology on a semi-truck.

The battery pack used by Toyota is the same, and slightly bigger, version of the hydrogen fuel cell used on its Mirai electric car. The automaker is currently testing a water-expelling semi-truck at the Port of Los Angeles. The company said that data gathered on these tests will be used to help the company develop a fleet of electric and zero-emission trucks.

The test is called Portal Project. The main goal is to determine how hydrogen fuel cells fare when equipped to a heavy duty work vehicle mostly used by shipping companies. The truck uses two Mirai fuel cells, which together produce 12kWh of juice. The battery packs power two motors that are connected to the rear wheels and that are working parallel to each other.

Toyota claims that the hydrogen fuel cell-powered semi-truck has a range of more than 200 miles before needing to refuel. The truck can also haul a gross combined weight capacity of 80,000 pounds.

"We think that there's a market demand for this technology in the ports today and there are no competing services to diesel solutions," Toyota national manager of advanced technology group Craig Scott said.

Toyota's effort is crucial towards the development of powerful electric powertrains and battery packs. The company is positive that these tests will help in building a practical infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Toyota said that the company will use its own set of drivers for the early stages of the tests. Nevertheless, the company will ultimately hand the reins over to drivers of its still-unnamed shipping partner.

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