Kez Casey | Apr 21, 2017

Toyota has thrown its hat into the big rig ring, unveiling its vision of a zero emissions semi truck in the United States, just days after Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, confirmed that an electric prime mover was next on the EV firm’s hit list.

In the case of Toyota’s hauler, called Project Portal, the Japanese firm has adapted a pair of fuel cell stacks from the hydrogen-fuelled Mirai sedan for use in a lightly modified (and thinly disguised) Kenworth T440.

Toyota rates Project Portal’s outputs in excess of 500kW of power and almost 1800Nm of torque providing comparable outputs to the production Kenworth’s mid-range inline six-cylinder turbo diesel engine range, with a relatively small 12kWh battery holding reserve power to ensure the hydrogen prime mover meets US Class 8 heavy duty truck regulations.

Toyota hasn’t released the truck’s hydrogen storage capacity, but estimates a potential 320 kilometre working range per fill under normal working conditions, with a carrying capacity of just over 32 tonnes.

Despite not being ideally suited to long-haul usage, Toyota is built Project Portal as more than just a technology showcase, with the Port of Los Angeles in California set to embark on a feasibility study using the Project Portal rig.

Beyond the Mirai sedan which is already offered for public sale in areas of Japan, the United States and Europe, Toyota has also began supplying a fleet fuel cell buses to the Bureau of transportation in Japan for use on Tokyo metropolitan routes with plans for up to 100 hydrogen buses to enter service before 2020.

“Toyota believes that hydrogen fuel cell technology has tremendous potential to become the powertrain of the future,” Toyota’s North American Vice President Bob Carter said in a statement.

“From creating one of the world’s first mass market fuel cell vehicles, to introducing fuel cell buses in Japan, Toyota is a leader in expanding the use of versatile and scalable zero-emission technology.”

"With Project Portal, we’re proud to help explore the societal benefits of a true zero emission heavy-duty truck platform.”

Toyota isn’t alone in pursuing hydrogen as a potential fuel system for road freight applications, with American startup Nikola Motor Company having also announced plans to develop a pair of zero emissions hydrogen prime movers, aiming for a more versatile 1290-1930 kilometres of range, with 745kW of power, 2710Nm of torque, and backed by a massive 120kWh battery.

MORE: Toyota | Hydrogen | Green

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