Toyota, Kenworth bring fuel cells to California ports

by Heavy Duty Trucking

Toyota’s next-generation fuel cell electric technology is now powering a pair of production-intent prototype Class 8 Kenworths that will go to work at the Southern California ports.

The first two fuel-cell electric heavy duty Class 8 trucks built under the Zero and Near Zero Emissions Freight Forwarding (ZANZEFF) project sponsored by the state of California will go to Toyota Logistics Services and Southern Counties Express.

Toyota and Kenworth have been working together on hydrogen-electric fuel cells since 2017. (Photo: Toyota)

Each will receive a Kenworth T680 Class 8 truck powered by a Toyota fuel cell electric drivetrain. Both of these zero-emissions trucks will be used for drayage operations in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Toyota and Kenworth have been collaborating on hydrogen fuel cell technology together since 2017, putting Toyota hydrogen fuel cells in Kenworth T680 truck chassis. According to the Japanese OEM, these T680 trucks use a scaled-up version of the new hydrogen fuel cell powertrain found in the 2021 Toyota Mirai sedan that goes on sale this month.

Using that technology, engineers at Toyota Motor North America Research and Development have developed a set of production-intent prototype trucks that are being prepared to run drayage routes at the ports of L.A. and Long Beach to validate their performance, efficiency and drivability.

Toyota said the new trucks have been designed to be flexible enough to meet the needs of a wide variety of OEM truck makers. Recent refinements include a more compact hydrogen storage cabinet behind the cab, which houses six hydrogen tanks with the same capacity as previous prototypes while a new, more powerful lithium-ion battery helps smooth out the power flow to the electric motors.

In this configuration, the second-generation fuel cell system delivers over 475 km of range at a full load weight of 80,000 lb., all while demonstrating exceptional drivability, quiet operation, and zero harmful emissions, according to Toyota.

“This is an important step in the transition to emissions-free heavy-duty trucks,” said Andrew Lund, chief engineer, Toyota Motor North America Research and Development. “Our first prototype trucks proved that a fuel cell electric powertrain was capable of hauling heavy cargo on a daily basis. 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.”

An additional eight trucks will be delivered in 2021 as part of the ZANZEFF program. Three of the eight trucks will go to United Parcel Service for its port operations, while two of the eight trucks will go to Total Transportation Services, another prominent port operator. Toyota Logistics Services will also receive three additional trucks.

Development of the Kenworth T680 FCEV is part of a $41 million Zero and Near-Zero Emissions Freight Facilities (ZANZEFF) grant awarded by the California Air Resources Board, with the Port of Los Angeles as the prime applicant.

Reducing airborne pollution at the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach is an important driver of this program, Toyota said, noting that its Environmental Challenge 2050 initiative aims to almost completely eliminate CO2 emissions from our vehicles, operations and supply chain by 2050. Converting the drayage trucks that currently serve these ports to electric drivetrains would move us closer to that goal while improving the quality of life of operators, workers, and communities in and around the ports.

  • This article originally appeared at and is reproduced under an editorial sharing agreement between Today’s Trucking and Heavy Duty Trucking magazines.

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