Hino Launches XL8 Fuel Cell Heavy Truck Prototype

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Hino Trucks on Tuesday unveiled the prototype XL8 Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell truck it is developing with Toyota Motor Corp. at the ACT Expo in Long Beach, California.

Toyota’s truck manufacturing subsidiary is one of two companies working with the auto giant to deploy heavy fuel cell tractors.

Toyota spent several years designing a heavy fuel cell truck, but previously relied on Paccar’s Kenworth brand as an automotive partner. The companies are building a dozen trucks for testing in Southern California.

Hino announced plans to develop a fuel cell truck in October as well.

“It’s amazing what our team was able to accomplish in a relatively short period of time,” said Glenn Ellis, senior vice president of customer experience, Hino Trucks.

“We look forward to validating the performance, reliability and efficiency of our hydrogen fuel cell power system in the XL Series chassis,” said Ellis.

The company said it had “received significant customer interest” and created the prototype to have a tangible product to show off.

Hino and Toyota are also developing heavy fuel cell trucks for the Japanese market.

Toyota used the fuel cell technology it developed for passenger cars as the basis for its heavy-duty hydrogen-powered truck designs. Most of the testing took place in Southern California, which is seeking to wean port traffic from diesel trucks.

The Los Angeles and Long Beach port complex is the largest commercial gateway for containerized freight in North America. Ports handle 20 percent of all cargo destined for the United States. But particulate matter and Co2 emissions from the 16,000 trucks entering and exiting ports daily are responsible for poor air quality in the port area and along the highways they use to inland distribution centers. California is pushing trucking companies and shippers to cut pollution and plans to eventually ban diesel trucks.

The automaker will launch an assembly line of fuel cell modules for heavy-duty hydrogen-powered commercial trucks at its Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky plant in 2023.

The company said it plans to sell the equipment to truck manufacturers and will provide technical support to customers.

“We are bringing our proven electrical technology to a whole new class of production vehicles,” said Tetsuo Ogawa, President and CEO of Toyota Motor North America. “Heavy truck manufacturers will be able to purchase a fully integrated and validated fuel cell electric drive system, allowing them to offer their customers an emission-free option in the Class 8 heavy-duty segment.”

Battery and fuel cell electric trucks use electric motors for propulsion and have similar powertrains.

Other companies are looking to tackle CO2 emissions and particulate pollution with battery-powered electric trucks. The Freightliner division of Daimler Trucks and Volvo both have Class 8 battery-powered electric trucks working in pilot programs in Southern California.

For example, Volvo said on Tuesday that distributor A Maersk Co. had signed an order for 16 Volvo VNR Electric Class 8 trucks, the largest commercial order to date for the model. Volvo started commercial production of the truck this year.

Although fuel cell trucks offer significant weight savings and faster refueling compared to battery-powered electric trucks, there is a growing debate about reducing their lifecycle emissions.

Environmental group Earthjustice released a report on Tuesday that found less than 1% of hydrogen today is produced using renewable energy. To be green, hydrogen must be produced from a renewable source of electricity such as solar, hydro or wind power.

“Hydrogen is not the quick fix it is supposed to be. Worse yet, the deluge of hydrogen hype from fossil fuel companies threatens to delay the transition to clean energy by siphoning resources away from solutions such as electrical devices and vehicles, ”said Sasan Saadat, analyst. Principal of Earthjustice Research and Policy. “In the future, green hydrogen could help us transport renewable energy to the most difficult corners of the energy system, but it does not replace the rapid electrification of much of our economy today.

Jerry Hirsch January 27, 2021

Navistar International Corp. embarks on a collaboration with General Motors Co. to develop hydrogen fuel cell trucks for long haul trucking.


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