Toyota Is Revolutionizing Fuel Cell-Powered Trucks
The current EV craze has seemingly kicked hydrogen power to the curb. But Toyota isn’t giving up on the promising fuel source just yet.
With all the hoopla surrounding hybrid and all-electric power, other viable fuel sources have fallen by the wayside. This includes hydrogen, an alternative fuel with an extremely high energy content by weight. It also just happens to be the most abundant element on the planet. When harnessed in a fuel cell, hydrogen power is clean. And in automotive applications, provides an experience very much like today’s gas-powered vehicles. All of which is why Toyota hasn’t given up on hydrogen just yet.
In fact, Toyota is already running a Class 8 big rig with hydrogen power around Long Beach, California. But is this exercise merely for commercial use, or does it have a future in passenger cars and trucks as well? To find out the latest, Trucks recently sat down with Doug Murtha, the group vice president of corporate strategy and planning for Toyota’s U.S. sales division. And his comments on the matter were rather enlightening.
The test process is still young, but Murtha admits there is a “prospect to make a larger demonstration fleet” in the future, which could lead to an entirely new business segment. Pretty impressive considering the fact that some of the big rig’s parts were simply yanked from a couple of compact cars. “We literally disassembled a couple of Mirais, took the parts and attached them to a larger motor and battery,” Murtha admits.
The biggest drawback of hydrogen power, of course, is infrastructure. Which is why commercial trucking is a great place to start, as Murtha explains. These are trucks that are simply going from point A to point B, not all over the place. “You need fuel at one, maybe at most two locations. You can deliver that, and store that, and produce that in large quantities and really get around some of the challenges of the infrastructure buildout.”
So should we expect to see a hydrogen fuel cell-powered Toyota Tacoma or Tundra in the near future? Well, maybe regionally in the U.S., at least. Few states and cities are even somewhat equipped with the sort of infrastructure needed to make it feasible, at least for now. But we aren’t giving up on the idea just yet. And clearly, neither is Toyota!
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