Toyota & Kenworth Collaborate To Develop Zero-Emission Fuel Cell Trucks

Toyota & Kenworth Collaborate To Develop Zero-Emission Fuel Cell Trucks

Author: Eric Walz   

At CES 2019 in Las Vegas, the Kenworth Truck Company and Toyota Motor North America announced a collaboration to develop Kenworth trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrains developed by Toyota. The initial plans are to built built ten zero-emission Kenworth T680s for use in the Port of Los Angeles.

This collaboration is part of a $41 million Zero and Near-Zero Emissions Freight Facilities (ZANZEFF) grant preliminarily awarded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), with the Port of Los Angeles as the prime applicant.

The grant is part of a larger $82 million program that will put fuel cell electric trucks, hydrogen fueling infrastructure, and zero emissions cargo handling equipment into operation in the ports and Los Angeles basin in 2020 to help clean up the air in the region.

Unlike their diesel counterparts, the hydrogen fuel cell trucks are completely emissions free and produce only water as a byproduct instead of harmful diesel emissions.

The hydrogen-powered Kenworth T680s big rigs will transport cargo across the Los Angeles basin and to inland cities including Ontario and San Bernardino, while generating zero emissions thanks to their fully electric hydrogen fuel cell powertrain integrations co-developed by Kenworth and Toyota.

The popular T680's, first introduced in 2013, account for nearly 60 percent of Kenworth's truck sales. The trucks have been retrofitted with an electric motor and a hydrogen fuel cell stack located behind the cab.

Toyota hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrains combine hydrogen gas and air to produce electricity. The electricity generated by the fuel cell powers electric motors to propel the trucks. Some of this electricity is used to charge the truck's lithium-ion batteries, optimizing performance as needed.

"This is an excellent opportunity for Kenworth and Toyota to work together to both explore and drive the development of advanced zero emission technologies that will play a critical role in the commercial transportation of the future," said Mike Dozier, Kenworth general manager and PACCAR vice president.

"This is not just a science experiment; the goal is to make a difference in society. To remove pollution and improve the air quality in and around the Port of Los Angeles," said Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales at Toyota Motor North America.

andrew lund.jpg

Kenworth R&D director Brian Lindgren (left) and Andrew Lund, chief engineer of truck fuel cell system development at Toyota with the hydrogen-powered truck

Sophisticated power management systems will distribute electrical power from the fuel cells to the motors, batteries, and other components, such as the truck's electrif power steering and brake air compressors.

The hydrogen fuel cell electric powered Kenworth T680s will have a range of over 300 miles under normal operating conditions.

The program will also fund foundational hydrogen fuel infrastructure, including two new fueling stations that, subject to a final investment decision by Equilon Enterprises LLC (dba Shell Oil Products U.S.), will be developed through Shell Oil Products U.S., to support the operation of the fuel cell electric trucks in Southern California.

Hydrogen fuel cell technology is seen as a promising alternative to electric trucks for use in the shipping industry. Electric semi trucks require a massive, expensive battery pack, adding to a significant increase in weight that must be hauled around along with the truck's payload. These trucks also require much longer charging times, a drawback for an industry that values optimum efficiency by keeping trucks on the road for as long as possible.

Hydrogen powered trucks on the other hand can be refueled about as quickly as a diesel truck.

Toyota is not the only automaker developing fuel cell technology. Daimler, Hyundai and newcomer Nikola Motor Company all have hydrogen powered trucks in development.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally from New Jersey, Eric is an automotive and technology reporter specializing in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Eric has over fifteen years of automotive experience and a B.A. in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the automotive industry and beyond. He has worked on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology. Outside of work, Eric likes to travel to new places, play guitar, and explore the outdoors.
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