- Toyota announced the second version of its zero-emissions, hydrogen fuel cell electric Class 8 truck, known internally as "Beta," during the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) Management Briefing Seminars, according to the company.
- Toyota's concept, known as "Project Portal," began operations in early 2017 where its version 1.0 "Alpha" truck was put through nearly 10,000 miles of testing and real world drayage operations around the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Beta will begin operations this fall.
- Project Portal 2.0's progress will feature trucks with a driving range of more than 300 miles per fill. With the hydrogen fuel cell technology, Toyota continues to work toward its own Environmental Challenge 2050 goals to eliminate CO2 emissions from its logistics facility at the Port of Long Beach.
Pollution from trucks has been one of those issues that usually lives out on the interstate, at ports or around industrial parks. While the days of Smokey and the Bandit era trucks belching smoke may hopefully be behind us, glider trucks aside, smell of truck exhaust in our neighborhoods is sort of a new scent. Truck manufacturers and trucking companies are trying to do something about it.
Driven by sustainability, market demand, mercurial emission standards and economics, truck manufacturers like Toyota are creating zero-emissions trucks, using technologies like hydrogen fuel cells to create the first OEM-built zero-emissions heavy truck. Commercialization of this success in the heavy truck segment is the next step.
The explosion of online commerce has reshaped the need for these types of trucks. Collectively we have become our own logistics managers. We get order acknowledgements, advanced shipping notices, shipping confirmations with click through carrier details, delivery notifications and options for carrier pickup of returns. We track our products and complain when they are rerouted or delayed in some way. There are so many deliveries on my suburban street that you’d think that there was a UPS depot at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Add in the grocery delivery trucks, furniture and appliance delivery, landscaping services and school busses, and it begs two questions. First, does anyone leave the house to go to the store? Second, what can we do about all of that diesel exhaust we are ingesting? As online sales continue to grow, the rumble of trucks will continue to grow as well.
There is help on the way for our neighborhoods. UPS, FedEx, DHL and the USPS are working on trucks that incorporate fuel cell technology in lighter trucks. While not fully widespread, increased conversion from standard gasoline engines will lead to fewer emissions, lower fuel costs and a cleaner environment. You’ll still notice the trucks, but their lingering aftereffects will be lessened.
Toyota’s sustainability efforts are laudable. Their Environmental Challenge 2015 to eliminate CO2 emissions from its Toyota Logistics Services (TLS) at the Port of Long Beach should act as a template and manifest example to other transportation companies, much like their Toyota Production Systems (TPS) was instrumental in the global lean manufacturing movement.