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Toyota will assemble fuel cell modules in the U.S. from 2023

Toyota has announced that it will assemble fuel cell modules at its manufacturing facility in Kentucky starting in 2023. This is part of a larger plan toward carbon neutrality as the brand takes its fuel cell electric powertrain and applies it to production vehicles after thousands of miles’ worth of real-world testing.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky will assemble dual fuel cell modules for hydrogen-powered heavy-duty commercial trucks. The aim is to allow manufacturers to incorporate fuel cell electric technology into existing platforms with technical backing from Toyota. We’re bringing our proven electric technology to a whole new class of production vehicles,” said Tetsuo Ogawa, president, and CEO of Toyota Motor North America. “Heavy-duty truck manufacturers will be able to buy a fully integrated and validated fuel cell electric drive system, allowing them to offer their customers an emissions-free option in Class 8 heavy-duty segment.”

The dual fuel cell modules, which are the key components of the whole kit, weigh approximately 1,400 pounds and can deliver up to 160 kW (214 hp) of continuous power. It also includes a high-voltage battery, electric motors, transmission, and a hydrogen storage assembly, all of which are sourced from top-tier suppliers. Toyota will also offer its expertise in powertrain integration to help truck manufacturers adapt the fuel cell system to a broad range of applications in the heavy-duty trucking industry sector.

“This second-generation fuel cell system is necessary for a carbon-neutral future,” says David Rosier, powertrain head at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky. “It delivers over 300 miles of range at a full load weight of 80,000 pounds, all while demonstrating exceptional drivability, quiet operation, and zero harmful emissions.” Toyota will display its heavy-duty hydrogen fuel cell technology at the 2021 Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo in Long Beach, California, which runs from August 31 to Sept. 1. It will also display a prototype truck powered by its fuel cell kit.

Toyota was one of the pioneers of hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrains in the auto industry. It was the first to introduce an FCV sedan when the first-generation Toyota Mirai appeared in 2014. That vehicle is now in its second generation underpinned by a modified version of Toyota’s TNGA-L platform and has switched from FWD to RWD. The original Mirai was good for 312 miles on a single tank according to the EPA. Its latest iteration can travel up to 357 miles. Only the Hyundai Nexo is rated higher than the Mirai at 380 miles for the Blue model (354 miles for the rest of the lineup).

Deliveries of the first heavy-duty hydrogen fuel cell truck began in December 2020 when Toyota Logistics Services and Southern Counties Express each got a Kenworth T680 Class 8 truck. The two vehicles each had a Toyota-sourced fuel cell drivetrain and will be used for drayage operations by Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. An additional eight trucks will be delivered this year. Three trucks going to the United Parcel Service’s port operations and two will go to Total Transportation Services. Toyota Logistics SErices will get another three trucks for a total of four.

The development of hydrogen fuel cell powertrains for heavy-duty trucks is part of the Zero and Near-Zero Emissions Freight Facilities (ZANZEFF) grant awarded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The Port of Los Angeles was the prime applicant and got awarded those funds as part of the California Climate Investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Written by Stefan Ogbac
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