Hino to work with Toyota on hydrogen fuel cell Class 8

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Hino on Oct. 5 unveiled its path to developing a zero-emissions truck line, highlighted by the announcement it will design a Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell truck with parent company Toyota.

Dubbed Project Z, Hino showcased its plans for electric and hydrogen fuel cell trucks virtually to the press and customers.

Takehito Yokoo, senior executive engineer, advanced fuel cell for Toyota North America, showed renderings of a Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell prototype under development for the North American market. It will be jointly developed by Hino and Toyota, and represents the first time the two companies have undertaken a joint engineering project in North America.

Hino will partner with Toyota to develop a hyrodgen fuel cell electric Class 8 truck. (Photo: Hino)

Yokoo said while many feel hydrogen fuel cells are a futuristic technology, he noted Toyota has been selling hydrogen fuel cell passenger cars into the U.S. market since 2015, selling more tan 6,000 such vehicles as of the end of last year.

“We are very confident and comfortable to say it’s scalable to Class 8,” he said of the technology. The first prototype will be unveiled in the first half of 2021.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Toyota and Hino are jointly building a full-sized passenger bus that will shuttle around athletes and fans at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The truck will be built on Hino’s recently released XL Series Class 8 chassis. The two auto makers had already announced plans to jointly develop a 25-ton fuel cell electric truck for the Japanese market.

“Expanding upon our proud heritage of the Hino powertrain, Toyota fuel cell technology offers our customers a commercially viable, extended range, zero emissions vehicle in the near term,” said Glenn Ellis, Hino’s senior-vice-president, customer experience. “Hino shares a common focus with Toyota when it comes to durability, reliability, and innovation with the customer at the center of design which makes this collaboration a game changer.”

The Hino Class 5 SEA

On the lighter end of the spectrum, Hino demonstrated a Class 5 truck decked out in Staples livery. It was built on a Hino M5 chassis with an electric SEA-Drive 120a powertrain. The truck is undergoing testing in California and will also be put through its paces on the U.S. East Coast, according to Tony Fairweather, president of SAE Electric.

Ellis noted Hino has chosen to partner with component and powertrain suppliers to bring to market the best solutions for its customers in each segment. SEA Electric is an Australian company founded in 2012, which now has electric vehicles deployed in five countries. Its battery system doesn’t require thermal management, which reduces weight and complexity.

The Hino demonstrated featured two battery packs, which can also be adapted to fit the Hino M4 Class 4 chassis. The 128 kWh batteries produce about 170 hp and 1,100 lb.-ft. of torque with linear acceleration and no diesel fumes.

Hino, under Project Z, is bringing to market a full line of electric trucks. (Photo: Hino)

The Class 7 answer

Hino will work with Hexagon Purus Systems for development of a battery-electric Class 7 tractor built on its XL7 chassis. Eric Coupal-Sikes, vice-president of e-mobility engineering with Hexagon Purus Systems, explained the company’s battery packs are liquid-cooled.

The truck demonstrated featured two battery packs – each with 220 kWh – representing the highest-energy density lithium ion cells, according to Coupal-Sikes. Battery packs are mounted at the front of the chassis on mounts designed to minimize vibration and improve durability. The company has done a million miles equivalent validation testing, he said.

The Class 7 city truck can be configured with the same wheelbase as a diesel, and features an electric axle at the rear of the 4×2 configuration. It can produce 400 kW (or 500 hp_ continuously, with 600 kW peak power. It generates a whopping 33,000 lb.-ft. of torque, Coupal-Sikes said.

The power cabinet mounted behind the cab is a slender design, to maintain a full range of fifth wheel positions. It also is capable of ultra-quick charging. “We can charge as quick as we can receive power,” said Coupal-Sikes, noting it is limited only by the charging technologies available today. The range is about 200 miles fully loaded.

And for Class 8…

Hino also demonstrated a Class 8 battery electric box truck, powered by XOS Trucks’ X-Pack battery and electric drive system. Jose Castaneda, vice-president of business development with XOS Truck said his company was the first to demonstrate the capability to pull 80,000 lbs in an electric truck application.

It can get about 250 miles out of a charge. The X Pack battery system is modular, with each pack containing its own air-cooling and electronics systems. The packs can be strung together to provide the needed power.

The Hino demonstrated featured 10 batteries.

“This is one of the largest ones we’ve done,” Castaneda acknowledged. He said charging can be done in about an hour using a Level 3 DC charger. The truck Hino demonstrated had a 30-ft box on the back.

For its battery-electric models, Hino said it is testing both central drive motors and e-axles.

The timeline for production of the electric trucks is 2024, with customer demonstration units hitting the road in 2022. Early prototypes – including the Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell electric – will begin to appear next year.

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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