The world is becoming electric – fossil fuels are so yesterday. However, electric trucks are moving rather slowly – development of long-range electric trucks is going to take longer than we think. Is there any better solution? Toyota is convinced that there is and is now revealing its “Project Portal” – a hydrogen fuel cell system designed for heavy duty truck use.
Toyota is big on hydrogen. While other major manufacturers are not sure about this technology and are moving towards pure electric power, Toyota is still toying with the idea that cars could be making electricity for themselves. Elon Musk called this idea “silly” as the energy, used to produce hydrogen, can be used to power the car directly. But electric heavy-duty trucks are still decades away – they need too much power for currently available electric vehicle systems.
“Project Portal” is just a proof of concept, but it is a working vehicle. It will serve as a test mule, to see if hydrogen cell technology is feasible in heavy-duty applications. If it works, it might as well spark a revolution – long-range hauling could be silent and produce no emissions. Toyota Mirai is a fuel-cell vehicle, but it is very expensive to make – you might as well buy an electric car for that money. But scaling up could reduce the extra cost, especially if hydrogen trucks become more and more popular.
This truck can do port drayage operations – it has enough power and torque to haul heavy items, but still emits just some water vapour. Although there are many sceptics, it might just work. Toyota worked against this negative opinion when introduced Mirai and hydrogen fuel cell buses in Japan. Toyota says that hydrogen fuel cell trucks may be one of the solutions to heavy-duty truck problem. Daimler is working on electric trucks with modular batteries and some delivery trucks are already being tested. However, fuel cell heavy-duty trucks may become reality sooner than alternatives.
Toyota is demonstrating its commitment to become the leader of green transportation industry. Sure, the future may be electric, but we are not using one fuel now, so why powertrains of the future should be the same?