Electric passenger cars might be the biggest focus of many manufacturers right now, but there is also an increased effort by many firms to come up with heavy-goods vehicles powered by alternative fuels. The latest development in this space sees Toyota-owned Hino team up with its parent company to build a heavy-duty fuel-cell electric truck (FCET) for the North American market. Based on Hino’s XL-series chassis, this eco-friendly cargo hauler will be fitted with Toyota’s fuel-cell technology, and a demonstration vehicle is expected to hit public roads in the first half of next year.
This isn’t the first time that a truck with Toyota fuel-cell tech will move on American roads. The manufacturer has already tested its non-polluting technology during real-world trials in California, where a proof-of-concept big rig has driven over 15,000km since 2017. This truck, referred to as Alpha, sports two fuel cells taken from a Toyota Mirai passenger car and a 12kWh battery that together create over 670hp and give it a range of over 300km. That’s not too shabby, considering we’re talking about a so-called Class 8 truck, which is the US classification for big commercial trucks with a gross combined weight capacity of over 14,900kg.
The new FCET currently being built by Hino and Toyota will operate in the same weight class, and almost certainly top the performance and range figures of earlier experimental vehicles, bringing zero-emission commercial trucks one step closer to becoming an everyday sight on the world’s roads. The two companies are also already working on a heavy-duty fuel-cell truck for the Japanese market. Based on the Hino Profia, this truck is slightly smaller than its American cousin, weighing in at 25 tons and promising an effective range of up to 600km.
All this work should put suitable pressure on competitors in the field—namely Tesla and controversial startup firm Nikola. This is, of course, good news for the general public, who will hopefully be able to breathe cleaner air thanks to fewer diesel trucks on the road in the near future.
Now, someone please tell Toyota to bring these trucks to Manila.