At the recent Center for Automotive Research (CAR) Management Briefing Seminars in Michigan, USA, Toyota Motor Corporation unveiled the second iteration of its Project Portal hydrogen fuel cell electric Class 8 truck.
The group revealed its first ‘Alpha’ demonstrator vehicle for the project in 2017, and the new ‘Beta’ iteration is said to significantly exceed its capabilities, increasing the estimated range to more than 300 miles per fill. The Beta truck is also said to enhance versatility and manoeuvrability with the addition of a sleeper cab and a fuel cabinet combination that increases cab space without increasing wheelbase.
For both the Beta and its predecessor Alpha vehicle, global engineering consultancy Ricardo, headquartered in Shoreham-by-Sea, UK, assisted Toyota with a wide range of engineering functions. These included systems integration and packaging for the fuel cells, power electronics, hydrogen tanks, cooling systems, batteries, electric motors and transmission.
Many of the ancillary systems traditionally driven by the combustion engine were also electrified, including the air compressor, power steering and HVAC system, the controls of which required integration into the vehicle’s J1939 CAN BUS. Both the Alpha and Beta vehicles were constructed by Ricardo at the workshops of its Detroit Technology Campus in Belleville, Michigan, USA.
With a gross combined weight capacity of 80,000 lbs, the 670-plus horsepower Alpha truck produced 1325 pound-feet of torque from two Mirai fuel cell stacks and 12 kWh of battery. The Project Portal Beta is said to maintain these torque and horsepower numbers.
Project Portal is part of Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050, which encompasses a range of efforts to eliminate CO2 emissions from its Toyota Logistics facility at the Port of Long Beach. Toyota has previously announced the construction of the Tri-Gen facility which will be the first megawatt-sized carbonate fuel cell power generation plant with hydrogen fuelling in the world. The 100% renewable plant will reportedly use agricultural waste to generate water, electricity, and hydrogen that will support Toyota Logistics Services’ (TLS) operations at the Port of Long Beach.
Over 16,000 trucks powered by internal combustion engines (ICE) are currently working in the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, USA, with the number expected to grow to 32,000 by the year 2030. More than 43,000 drayage trucks are said to be in operation at ports across the United States, and contribute significant amounts of carcinogens, diesel particulate matter (DPM) and other pollutants into the air of port communities and surrounding neighbourhoods.
“Our goal with the first truck was to see if it could be accomplished, and we did that,” commented Craig Scott, Senior Manager for Toyota’s North American Electrified Vehicle & 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 U.S. and around the globe.”
Chris Brockbank, VP of Vehicle Engineering at Ricardo, stated, “The Ricardo team is pleased to have been able to continue our successful collaboration with Toyota on the very important Project Portal heavy duty zero emission fuel cell electric truck demonstration project. The Beta Project Portal vehicle is an impressive advance over its Alpha predecessor, offering practical design improvements in addition to its very practical 300+ mile range which makes it a capable ZEV option for drayage operations.”
“We look forward to working with Toyota in the completion of the real world drayage testing, and to seeing the results of the project which, I believe, may well inform the future vision of heavy duty transportation,” he concluded.