A battle for the future of clean trucks is breaking out. A week after Elon Musk said an electric Tesla semi is coming, Toyota sped ahead of him in its own exhaust-free truck: a hydrogen-powered 18-wheeler created to haul cargo at the Port of Los Angeles.
The carmaker’s truck, dubbed “Project Portal,” fulfills a promise Toyota made in November to scale up the fuel cell system used in its Mirai sedan for a semi as part of a feasibility study. The Class 8 truck Toyota created using a Kenworth chassis, generates more than 670 horsepower from electricity generated by two Mirai fuel cell stacks. The truck also uses a bigger motor and battery than that in its midsize sedan, and should average 200 miles per fueling of compressed hydrogen gas.
“The power is large enough and the drivability and performance, everything, has to meet the current diesel truck requirement,” Toyota Senior Executive Engineer Takehito Yokoo told Forbes. “Because we are using a hydrogen fuel cell and motor, this is an EV, but not a battery-powered EV. The exhaust emission is zero, only water vapor coming out.”
Daily operation of the truck at the port, hauling cargo offloaded from ships to rail distribution centers, will run for an indeterminate period. For now, this is only a test of the technology and Toyota hasn’t committed to turning the truck power system into a commercial program, Yokoo said.