The second generation of Toyota’s hydrogen truck. Picture: TOYOTA
The second generation of Toyota’s hydrogen truck. Picture: TOYOTA

Toyota has taken another leap towards zero-emission trucking, unveiling the second iteration of its hydrogen fuel cell electric truck in the US. The new truck, known internally as Beta, expands on the capabilities of its first Project Portal test vehicle by increasing the estimated range to more than 483km per fill.

The company says the truck also enhances versatility and manoeuvrability with the addition of a sleeper cab and a unique fuel cabinet combination that further increases cab space without increasing wheelbase.

Since it first began with operations in April 2017, the Project Portal Alpha truck has logged nearly 16,093km of testing and real-world drayage operations in and around the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles in the US while emitting nothing but water vapour.

Beta will begin drayage operations in the northern autumn, raising the ports’ zero emission trucking capacity and further reducing the environmental effects of drayage operations.

Project Portal 2.0 builds on the lessons learned from the launch of the Alpha vehicle in 2017. The first heavy-duty truck was the result of a true skunk works effort within Toyota that moved from initial concept to a fully capable drayage truck driving silently out of a Michigan garage in just more than a year.

Engineers and technicians worked long hours to reconfigure the wire harnesses, electronics and other components of two off-the-lot Mirai fuel cell electric cars to create one of the world’s first OEM-built zero-emission heavy trucks.

Pioneer: The company is one of the most advanced when it comes to hydrogen technology. Picture: TOYOTA
Pioneer: The company is one of the most advanced when it comes to hydrogen technology. Picture: TOYOTA

"By evaluating the first truck in our test facilities and on the actual roads in the LA area, we made a list of improvements for the Beta truck build process and performance enhancements," says Andrew Lund, chief engineer for the project.

"We needed to move beyond a proof of concept, which the first truck accomplished, to something that is not only better than the original but is also more commercially viable."

Through the lessons learned, Project Portal 2.0 is said to be more refined, functional and capable and expands Toyota’s environmental offering to the next level. The company vows to remain committed to support for developing a consumer-facing hydrogen infrastructure in order to fully realise the potential of fuel cell vehicles.

"Our goal with the first truck was to see if it could be accomplished, and we did that," says Craig Scott, senior manager for Toyota’s North American electrified vehicle and technologies office. "This time we’re looking at commercial viability. We want to help make a difference … a significant difference when it comes to the air quality not only in the LA area but across the US and around the globe."

This announcement is a continuation of Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050 efforts to eliminate carbon emissions from its Toyota Logistics facility at the Port of Long Beach.

Toyota has previously announced the construction of the Tri-Gen facility, the first megawatt-sized, carbonate fuel cell power generation plant with hydrogen fuelling in the world.

The 100% renewable plant will use agricultural waste to generate water, electricity and hydrogen.