Toyota and Hino work on fuel cell heavy-duty trucks

Toyota-Hino fuel cell

Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) and its Hino heavy-truck subsidiary are working together on fuel cell trucks for Japan in a project similar to one Toyota is undertaking with PACCAR Inc.’s Kenworth Truck Co. in the United States.

Toyota and Hino announced the program, which began in October 2019, on Monday. The two hope to have running prototypes on Japanese roads this year. Commercial production is possible, but no timeline was mentioned. Toyota will be in charge of the fuel cell system and controls. Hino will mainly work on the cab, chassis and other truck structural components. 

The truck will include hydrogen tanks, a high-voltage battery and electric motor. It is based on Hino’s Profia model. 

Two fuel cell stacks developed for the next-generation Mirai fuel cell sedan would provide a traveling range of 600 kilometers (373 miles), according to Reuters.

Toyota and Hino declined to discuss the location of the tanks, the truck’s payload, motor output or battery capacity. They also offered no information on production timing or pricing.

Global need

“Fuel cell trucks are needed globally, not just in North America,” Andrew Lund, a Toyota Motor North America chief engineer in research and development working on the Toyota-Kenworth project, told FreightWaves. “I think you will see more and more collaborations like this.”

Five of the 10 Kenworth trucks with Toyota fuel cell powertrains have been built and are in various stages of testing, according to Brian Lindgren, director of Kenworth research and development. The first truck was planned for commercial service this month, but that is impacted by COVID-19 work restrictions, he said.

Toyota is a leader in hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle development. The Mirai fuel cell passenger car is available in California on a subsidized three-year/35,000-mile lease at $389 a month with $2,499 down. Maintenance and hydrogen fuel are included in the lease price.

The Mirai fuel cell stacks developed in Japan are central to both of its heavy-duty truck programs.

Separate management

Toyota owns 50.1% of Hino. Toyota considers its work with its subsidiary an internal project, allowing access to all Toyota technology, Lund said. By contrast, the automaker provides the Mirai fuel cells and other equipment to Kenworth, which assembles the proof-of-concept trucks in Washington state for use in Southern California.

“The programs are managed completely separately,” Lund said.  

Separately, Toyota plans to have 100 Hino-designed fuel-cell powered buses in use at the Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo, though the Games are in question because of the coronavirus pandemic. It announced a 175-acre hydrogen city at the foot of Mount Fuji during the Consumer Electronics Show 2020 in January.