Truck manufacturers are developing their alternative powertrain options as the gradual move away from diesel continues.

Much has been made in recent years of new electric trucks, but OEMs are not putting all their eggs in that particular basket. They continue to explore hydrogen and fuel cell technology, with Toyota and Daimler have recently shared updates.

Toyota’s fuel cell electric technology is being deployed in a fleet of trucks in California. Currently at the prototype stage, the system has been adapted to fit a Kenworth T680 chassis and will be used for short-distance runs in and around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Six hydrogen tanks work with a lithium-ion battery to ensure smooth power flow to the electric motors. With this configuration, a driving range of more than 300 miles is possible with a 36.3-tonne load. 

“Our first prototype trucks proved that a fuel cell electric powertrain was capable of hauling heavy cargo on a daily basis,” said Andrew Lund, a chief engineer at Toyota’s North American R&D centre. “These new prototypes not only use production-intent hardware, they will also allow us to start looking beyond drayage into broader applications of this proven technology.”

Daimler developments

Meanwhile, Daimler and Linde have signed an agreement to develop liquid-hydrogen refuelling technology for fuel-cell-powered trucks. The focus will be on devising a new handling process to allow higher storage density, greater range, faster refuelling and improved energy efficiency.

The plan is for the first refuelling to take place on a prototype vehicle at a pilot station in Germany in 2023. The duo are hoping that their efforts will help spark innovation and R&D within other key industry figures to help make hydrogen and fuel cell technology more widely adopted in trucks.

“With our collaboration with Linde as an expert in hydrogen refuelling technology, we want to increase the viability and acceptance in the industry of fuel-cell trucks on the basis of hydrogen,” commented Sven Ennerst, board member for development at Daimler Truck. “The new process can further enhance the numerous advantages that liquid hydrogen offers.”