On the same day in different hemispheres, Toyota made significant announcements about its latest hydrogen fuel cell [HFC] advances. On October 12, 2017—from Los Angeles, California, and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates— the car maker reminded the world that HFC technology, much like battery electric vehicle [BEV] technology, has made great strides.
At the Port of Los Angeles, beginning October 23rd, a concept version of a truck powered by Toyota’s HFC system designed for heavy-hauling will start running short-haul trips totalling about 200 miles a day from “select Port of LA and Long Beach terminals to surrounding rail yards and warehouses for distribution” to test the “duty-cycle capabilities of the fuel cell system.”
With 80,000 pounds combined weight capacity, 670 horsepower, 1,325 pound-feet of torque from two Mirai (Japanese for “future”) fuel cell stacks, and a 12 kWh battery, this prototype truck accelerates away from a similarly sized diesel truck, at least according to YouTube! ‘Project Portal,’ as this test is called, follows a series of development tests in which the truck hauled a progressive weight of the cargo—36,287 kilograms (80,00 pounds)— over 6,437 kilometers (4,000 miles) while doing precisely what it was designed to do: emit only water vapor.
One noteworthy aspect of this project is the way in which it sidesteps the issue of the lack of hydrogen fuelling station infrastructure. Since the truck will leave from and return to the same place daily, it is tethered to one station. Project Portal is one important step toward fulfilling Toyota’s stated long-term intention to build a fleet of zero-emission big rigs. Similarly, Toyota has also said, “it plans to sell buses powered by hydrogen fuel cells in Tokyo this year, in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics.”
In the other hemisphere, the announcement addressed the arrival of Toyota’s HFC-powered, mid-size sedan, the ‘Mirai’ and, correspondingly, the opening of the first hydrogen refilling station at Toyota’s Al Badia Festival City showroom in Dubai.
The Mirai, unveiled at the November 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, is one of the first HFC vehicles to be sold commercially. Wikipedia reports that “cumulative sales by mid-February 2017 totaled 2,840 Mirais in Japan, the United States, Europe, and the United Arab Emirates,” Japan and the US ranking as the top-selling markets.
The Mirai has many fascinating features—enough for its own Wikipedia article. But, simply and succinctly put it may well be the most fuel efficient, most far-ranging, and cleanest ‘electric’—as generated by its HFC power system—vehicle on the road today. Plus refueling takes between three and five minutes using a hose and nozzle system very similar to the standard gas station system for refueling internal combustion engines.
On the topic of HFC vehicles, Wikipedia also provides a ‘List of fuel cell vehicles.’ Have a look. You may find yourself surprised by the number of automakers also continuing to develop this technology, and the range of vehicles in which it is being tested.
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