Since the introduction of the Toyota Prius, twenty years ago, Toyota has been working hard on hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fully-electric and fuel-cell vehicles. The last one especially has been a charge led by Toyota with vehicles like the Mirai.
Alternative fuel vehicles have been around for awhile, though, and always seem to wind up in similar places. They offer little cargo room, or power, and prevent drivers from traveling very far. That’s all about to change. In an October 12, 2017 press release, Toyota has detailed their work into the future of commercial transportation, namely trucking, through the use of highly-efficient fuel-cell vehicle technology.
Before we get into that, however, let’s take a look at exactly what fuel-cell technology entails:
How Does Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology Work?
Hydrogen fuel cell technology is a type of electric vehicle technology. The abundant compound hydrogen is combined with oxygen to produce electricity. That sounds simple, and that’s because it is. A simple chemical reaction produces heat and water, the first of which powers a motor that creates motion for your vehicle.
Although the infrastructure is still fairly early in development, those pioneering hydrogen fuel cell technology (like Toyota), see a future where you would stop at a fuel station, and purchase a small tank of compressed hydrogen that would be inserted into the car. This tank could provide as much range as a typical gas fill-up, but at a lower cost (due to the abundance of the fuel), and with zero emissions.
Unlike fully-electric vehicles that need to acquire battery charge from somewhere (in many cases, a fossil-fuel burning power plant), hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have the potential to be perfectly clean. They travel farther than their fully-electric counterparts as well!
Toyota’s Bold Foray Into a Clean Commercial Future
With a recently-launched hydrogen fuel-cell based pickup truck, Toyota is trialing Project Portal in and around the Ports of Los Angeles. These drayage (short-distance, from port to rail) routes, provided by Southern Counties Express, will begin on October 23rd, with the trucks traveling an estimated 200 miles/day.
This study, managed by Toyota Motor North America’s “Project Portal” team seeks to determine the feasibility of large-scale growth for the clean and quiet fuel technology. In addition to providing a quiet, clean and cost-cutting transportation solution for future trucking ventures, Toyota is proving the negative stigma around alternative-fuel vehicles wrong.
After all, Toyota’s Project Portal truck puts out an astonishing 670-horsepower and 1,325 lb-ft. of torque. This zero-emission class-8 truck is as much an utility-driven, industrial behemoth as it is a symbol of a future with cleaner fuel and technology in the heart of our nation’s commerce.
While it may be a while before we see anything this futuristic next to us on the freeway, it’s always great to know that Toyota is looking ahead. While other automobile manufacturers keep one eye on the future, Toyota has both hands on it – shaping, creating, and building it, every single day!
For more information about Toyota vehicles, or to schedule a test-drive on a high-efficiency, low-emissions hybrid model, contact us today!